Ohio uncovers new COVID-19 variant

Columbus-based Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and OSU College of Medicine researchers have discovered a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to a Jan. 13 news release

Researchers are unsure how prevalent the strain may be, as it's only been detected in one Ohio patient so far. The variant, named COH.20G/501Y, likely arose in a virus strain already present in the U.S. and carries a mutation identical to the U.K. strain. 

Additionally, researchers also report the evolution of another evolving U.S. strain that acquired three other gene mutations not previously seen together in SARS-CoV-2. This evolving strain has become the dominant virus in Columbus, according to the news release. 

Similar to the U.K. strain, mutations in the Columbus strain are likely to make the virus more infectious.

"The big question is whether these mutations will render vaccines and current therapeutic approaches less effective," said Peter Mohler, PhD, study co-author and chief scientific officer at Wexner. "At this point, we have no data to believe that these mutations will have any impact on the effectiveness of vaccines now in use." 

The preprint server bioRxiv is reviewing the findings for publication. 

More articles on public health:
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22 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Jan. 13
States ranked by percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered


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