Healthcare workers conducted free Covid-19 tests on people in their cars in the parking lot of the Columbus West Family Health and Wellness Center in Columbus, Ohio, on November 19, 2020.
Stephen Zener AFP | Getty images
Researchers in Ohio said Wednesday they had discovered two new variants of the coronavirus, which probably originated in the United States ̵
Like a strain first discovered in the United Kingdom, American mutations appear to make Covid-19 more contagious, but do not appear to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine, the researchers said.
Researchers at Ohio State University have not yet published their full findings, but say an unverified study is pending. Jason MacDonald, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNBC that the agency was reviewing the new research.
One of the new strains, found in only one patient in Ohio, contains a mutation identical to the now dominant variant in the United Kingdom, the researchers said, noting that “it probably originated in a viral strain already in the United States.” However, the “Columbus strain,” which researchers say has become dominant in the city in a press release, includes “three other gene mutations that have not been observed together in SARS-CoV2.”
“This new strain of Columbus has the same genetic backbone as the previous cases we studied, but these three mutations represent a significant evolution,” said Dr. Dan Jones, vice president of molecular pathology in Ohio, in a statement. . “We know that this change does not come from the British or South African branches of the virus.”
The mutation found in the dominant new strain in Columbus – COH.20G / 501Y – “can occur independently in many parts of the world in the last few months,” the researchers said.
Peter Moller, chief research officer in Ohio, Wexner State Medical Center and co-author of the upcoming study, said there was no evidence that the new strain would affect the effectiveness of vaccines.
“It is important that we do not overreact to this new option until we receive additional data,” he said in a statement. “We need to understand the impact of mutations on the transmission of the virus, the spread of the strain in the population and whether there is a significant impact on human health.
Ohio researchers will hold a press briefing on their discovery at 11 a.m.
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