ABSTRACT Background The SARS-CoV-2 P.1 variant has been considered as variant of concern (VOC) since the end of 2020 when it was firstly identified in the Brazilian state of Amazonas and from there spread to other regions of Brazil . This variant was associated with an increase in transmissibility and worsening of the epidemiological situation in the places where it was detected . The aim of this study was to analyze the severity profile of covid-19 cases in the Rio Grande do Sul state, southern region of Brazil, before and after the emergence of the P.1 variant, considering also the context of the hospitals overload and the collapse of health services . Methods We analyzed data from the Influenza Epidemiological Surveillance Information System, SIVEP-Gripe (Sistema de Informacao de Vigilancia Epidemiologica da Gripe) and compare two epidemiological periods: the first wave comprised by cases occurred during November and December 2020 (EW 45 to 53) and the second wave with cases occurred in February 2021 (EW 5 to 8), considering that in this month there was a predominance of the new variant P.1 . We calculated the proportion of severe forms among the total cases of covid-19, the case fatality rates (CFR) and hospital case fatality rate (hCFR) over both waves time set using the date of onset of symptoms as a reference . We analyzed separately the patients without pre-existing conditions of risk, by age and sex . For comparison between periods, we calculated the Risk Ratio (RR) with their respective 95% confidence intervals and the p-values . Findings We observed that in the second wave there were an increase in the proportion of severe cases and covid-19 deaths among younger age groups and patients without pre-existing conditions of risk . The proportion of people under the age of 60 among the cases that evolved to death raised from 18% (670 deaths) in November and December (1st wave) to 28% (1370 deaths) in February (2nd wave). A higher proportion of patients without pre-existing risk conditions was also observed among those who evolved to death due to covid-19 in the second wave (22% , 1,077 deaths) than in the first one (13% , 489 deaths). The CFR for covid-19 increased overall and in different age groups, in both sexes . The increase occurred in a greatest intensity in the population between 20 and 59 years old and among patients without pre-existing risk conditions . Female 20 to 39 years old, with no pre-existing risk conditions, were at risk of death 5.65 times higher in February (95% CI = 2.9 - 11.03; p <0.0001) and in the age group of 40 and 59 years old, this risk was 7.7 times higher (95% CI = 5.01-11.83; p <0.0001) comparing with November-December . Interpretation Our findings showed an increase in the proportion of young people and people without previous illnesses among severe cases and deaths in the state of RS after the identification of the local transmission of variant P.1 in the state . There was also an increase in the proportion of severe cases and in the CFR, in almost all subgroups analyzed, this increase was heterogeneous in different age groups and sex . As far as we know, these are the first evidences that the P.1 variant can disproportionately increase the risk of severity and deaths among population without pre-existing diseases, suggesting related changes in pathogenicity and virulence profiles . New studies still need to be done to confirm and deepen these findings.