OSU researchers discover new variant of COVID-19 virus
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - A new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in Columbus, discovered by scientists at The Ohio State University.
This new variant carries a mutation identical to the U.K. strain, but it likely arose in a virus strain already present in the United States, according to a press release. The researchers also report the evolution of another U.S. strain that acquired three other gene mutations not previously seen together in SARS-CoV2.
The new variant was discovered in one patient from Ohio, so researchers do not yet know the prevalence of the strain in the population.
In contrast, the evolving strain with the three new mutations has become the dominant virus in Columbus during a three week period in late December 2020 and January.
Like the U.K. strain, mutations detected in both viruses affect the spikes that stud the surface of SARS-Cov-2. The spikes enable the virus to attach to and enter human cells. Also like the U.K. strain, the mutations in the Columbus strain are likely to make the virus more infectious, making it easier for the virus to pass from person to person.
The scientists said that discovery of the Columbus variant, COH.20G/501Y, suggests that the same mutation may be occurring independently in multiple parts of the world during the past few months.
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