Study: Seven US-based coronavirus variants carry same genetic mutation
STATEN ISLAND, NY – As for the variants of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that were first discovered in the UK and South Africa continue to cause concern among health officials, scientists have reported seven mutated forms of the virus that appear to originate from the United States.
A preprinted study released on Sunday showed that the altered forms of the virus, which were first detected in late 2020, all carried the same genetic mutation and have been recorded in multiple states across the United States.
“There is clearly something going on with this mutation,” Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and co-author of the new study, told The New York Times.
While the study said it was not immediately clear whether the mutations carried an increased risk of contagiousness, the genetic alteration is believed to affect how the virus enters human cells. As a result, the researchers said the results “deserve further study of potential differences in transmissibility.”
The study indicated that the specific mutation present in independent populations “provides strong evidence of adaptation”. This process, called convergent evolution, occurs in viruses in the same way Darwin observed in animals.
Scientists have suggested that some of the variants were found in a subsampled portion of the American population, “suggesting that these lines may in fact be more prevalent.”
The findings come as the United States lags behind countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Denmark in surveillance for coronavirus variants, with the country sequencing less than 1 % of all cases, according to study.
For example, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the UK variant of the coronavirus – known as B.1.1.7 – could become predominant in the United States by March, only 1,173 mutation cases have been reported in 43 states, CDC data show Monday.
A recent study indicated that the British variant was spreading “rapidly” across the United States
Despite worrying news that B.1.1.7 is “likely” to lead to an increased risk of hospitalization and death, a lack of monitoring makes the extent of the variant in the United States relatively unknown.
“Collectively, these results demonstrate the value of greater genomic sequencing and the importance of tracking the emergence and spread of lines that combine multiple mutations that could improve transmissibility or elude immunity against infection or disease. previous vaccines, ”the researchers said in the latest study.