By: KDKA-TV News Staff
COLUMBUS (KDKA) – Scientists at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center have discovered a new variant of SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The new variant is similar to the mutation found in the United Kingdom, but researchers believe this mutation likely arose in a virus strain that was already present in the United States.
“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.”
Ohio State Researchers also reported the evolution of another strain in the U.S. that acquired three other gene mutations not previously seen together in SARS-CoV2.
Similar to the United Kingdom strain, mutations that were detected in both viruses affect the spikes that stud the surface of SARS-Cov-2. That spike enables the virus to attach to and enter human cells and the strain found in Columbus is similar to the United Kingdom strain that likely makes the virus more infectious.
“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. It’s important that we don’t overreact to this new variant until we obtain additional data,”
Scientists and researchers at Ohio State said that the same mutation they found may be occurring independently in multiple parts of the world in the last few months.