Even at ten months since the start of the ongoing pandemic, the coronavirus still suffers mutations that make it more dangerous. Fortunately, there’s no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines won’t work against the virus’s new strains.
The coronavirus variant that emerged from the UK, for instance, causes the disease to spread more easily among people. Although it doesn’t cause more severe illness, nor does it increase the death risk, the UK strain is still more dangerous than the previous variants by the fact that it’s more infectious.
Two new COVID-19 variants found in Ohio
LiveScience writes about two new COVID-19 variants identified in Ohio, with one of them being dubbed ‘Columbus strain’. The latter features three gene mutations never seen together before, as the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center reports. The new strain began to dominate Columbus (Ohio) relatively quickly, from late December last year to early January.
Dr. Dan Jones, leader of the study and vice-chair of the molecular pathology division at the Wexner Medical Center, declared:
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.
While the main suspicion is that the new mutations make the virus more transmissible, more studies are required. As in the case of the COVID-19 strain found in the UK, the mutations from the Columbus variant occur in the virus’s spike protein that allows access to human cells.
Although the COVID-19 vaccinations are rolling out, the ongoing pandemic continues to ravage the world: over 94 million infections and more than 2 million deaths, according to worldometers.info. Countries like the US, the UK, Germany, Spain, and others are currently dealing with record numbers of infections.