US: New SARS-CoV-2 Variant Discovered in New York City

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According to CNN, the researchers warned that this variant carries mutations responsible for evading the natural immune response and some effects of treatments with monoclonal antibodies.

Named B.1,526, it appears in affected individuals in various neighborhoods of New York City, and is dispersed in the northeast, explained experts from Columbia University Medical Center.

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They also noted that one of its mutations matches those of the variant identified in South Africa.

The one that most concerns the researchers is called E484K and is present in at least 59 different coronavirus lineages, which is evidence of independent development in a process known as convergent evolution, they said.

“We observed a steady increase in the detection rate from late December to mid-February, with an alarming increase to 12.7 percent in the last two weeks,” the researchers’ report notes.

Although the data have not yet appeared in any specific journal on the subject, the experts explain that details of this variant, the latest of a growing number found in the United States, the country most affected in the world by the pandemic, will soon be known.

It is ‘homegrown, presumably in New York,’ David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia, who led the study team, told CNN.

Another team at the California Institute of Technology announced that they developed a software tool, with which they also discovered the increase of B.1,526 in New York.

This week, several U.S. research centers reported another variant that appears to be on the rise in California which may be more contagious and cause a more severe disease.

Named B.1,427/B.1,429, this one has a different pattern of mutations than those first seen in the UK (B.1,1.7 or B.1,351) and a mutation, called L452R, responsible for affecting the spike protein of the virus, which is the part that attaches to the cells the virus infects.

A recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that as of February 23rd, scientists had identified more than 590,000 SARS-CoV-2 sequences worldwide, and new variants of possible interest or concern are continually emerging.

Given this situation, the WHO states that more research is needed to better understand the importance of specific mutations and the adaptations and evolution of SARS-CoV-2.

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