CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Researchers with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine discovered a new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Only one patient in the state tested positive for the new variant so far, but the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center said it’s unclear the prevalence of the strain in the population.
The variant is identical to a mutation that appears to spread more easily that was first found in the United Kingdom, but scientists suggest it likely came from a strain that is already present in the United States.
“The big question is whether these mutations will render vaccines and current therapeutic approaches less effective,” said Peter Mohler, a co-author of the study and chief scientific officer at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and vice dean for research at the College of Medicine. “At this point, we have no data to believe that these mutations will have any impact on the effectiveness of vaccines now in use.”
Additionally, medical researchers said that an evolution of another U.S. strain with three other gene mutations not previously seen together in the SARS-CoV2 has been found in Ohio.
“This new Columbus strain has the same genetic backbone as earlier cases we’ve studied, but these three mutations represent a significant evolution,” said study leader Dr. Dan Jones, vice chair of the division of molecular pathology. “We know this shift didn’t come from the U.K. or South African branches of the virus.”
The evolved strain with three new mutations has become the dominant virus in the Columbus area between late December 2020 and January 2021, and could ne occurring more frequently in other parts of the world.
“It’s important that we don’t overreact to this new variant until we obtain additional data,” Mohler added.
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has been researching the COVID-19 genome sequence since March 2020 in order to track the evolution of the coronavirus.