Boris Johnson admits concern over Brazilian coronavirus strain
Researchers at The Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Centre and College of Medicine have spotted two variants of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, in the state. One has been dubbed the “Columbus strain” after it was found in the city last year, and carries three mutations unique to the variant.
The “Columbus strain” has become the dominant variant of COVID-19 in the state after it emerged in the city in the weeks between December and January.
Dr Dan Jones, vice chair of the division of molecular pathology at OSU who led the study, issued a statement on the variant stating it is unclear how it emerged.
He said: “This new Columbus strain has the same genetic backbone as earlier cases we’ve studied, but these three mutations represent a significant evolution.
“We know this shift didn’t come from the UK or South African branches of the virus.”
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OSU scientists also reported the second strain carries the same mutation as the UK variant, which emerged in Kent in September.
While findings are unclear, the team believe the mutation in the second variant occurred in an Ohio patient.
It is also unknown how widespread the second variant is in the population, with Ohio recording a further 6,701 cases and 79 deaths on Wednesday.
In total the state has seen 799,639 cases and 9,881 deaths.
Both of the new strain’s mutations affect the spike protein in the virus which allows it to infect a person.
The “Columbus strain” is touted as more infectious than the original version of the virus, but more research is needed by OSU to confirm this.
Peter Mohler, chief scientific officer at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and vice dean for research at the College of Medicine, issued a statement reassuring Ohioan’s no data show vaccines will be less effective against the new strains.
He added: “It’s important that we don’t overreact to this new variant until we obtain additional data.
“We need to understand the impact of mutations on transmission of the virus, the prevalence of the strain in the population and whether it has a more significant impact on human health.”
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Multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been spotted around the world, with the UK strain reported to be between 50 to 70 percent more infectious than the original variant.
A Brazilian strain has also been identified in recent weeks, with Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser, stating it has mutations which make it more transmissible.
He said to ITV: “What we’re seeing is that mutations are cropping up across the world which are quite similar in terms of the changes. (…)
“There is no evidence at all that with any of these variants that it makes the disease itself more severe.”
The US recorded a further 34,185 cases and 791 deaths on Wednesday.
It has recorded the highest cases and deaths from coronavirus globally, with a total of 23,650,700 and 394,724 respectively.
White House coronavirus Taskforce officials said in reports from January 10 they were seeing a “full resurgence” of the virus in “nearly all metro areas”.
CNN obtained the reports, which also advocated for “aggressive action” in all states.
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