COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Researchers at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center say they have found a new variant of COVID-19 in Columbus.
According to a release, researchers with the center have found a new variant of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which carries a mutation identical to the British strain.
The release indicates that the strain probably originated in a virus strain that was already present in the United States. The researchers also report the evolution of another American strain that acquired three other gene mutations not previously seen together in SARS-CoV2.
Ohio State Wexner Medical Center has been sequencing the genome of SARS-Cov-2 viruses in patients with COVID-1
“The big question is whether these mutations will make vaccines and current therapeutic approaches less effective,” said Peter Mohler, co-author of the study and chief scientific officer at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and vice dean of research at the College of Medicine. “At this time, we have no data to believe that these mutations will have any effect on the efficacy of vaccines currently in use.”
According to the researchers, the evolving strain with the three new mutations has become the dominant virus in Columbus over a three-week period in late December 2020 and January.
Like the British strain, mutations detected in both viruses affect spikes that study the surface of SARS-Cov-2. The spikes allow the virus to attach to and enter human cells. Like the British strain, the mutations in the Columbus strain are likely to make the virus more contagious, making it easier for the virus to pass from person to person.
“It is important that we do not overreact to this new variant until we get further data,” Mohler said. “We need to understand the impact of mutations on the transmission of the virus, the prevalence of the strain in the population, and whether it has a more significant impact on human health. Furthermore, it is critical that we continue to monitor the development of the virus so that we can understand the impact of the mutant forms on the design of both diagnostics and therapy. It is crucial that we make decisions based on the best science. ”
“This new Columbus strain has the same genetic backbone as previous cases we have studied, but these three mutations represent a significant development,” said study leader Dr. Dan Jones, Vice President of the Division of Molecular Pathology. “We know this shift did not come from the British or South African branches of the virus.”