Researchers Identify New Covid-19 Variant In Ohio

Random variation is an essential component of all living things. It drives diversity, and it is why there are so many different species. Viruses are no exception. Most viruses are experts at changing genomes to adapt to their environment. We now have evidence that the virus that causes Covid, SARS-CoV-2, not only changes, but changes in ways that are significant. This is the fourth part of a series of articles on how the virus changes and what that means for humanity. Read the rest: part one, part two, part three, and part four.

Researchers have isolated two new variants of SARS-CoV-2 via genome sequencing in Columbus, Ohio, according to a preprint pending publication on bioRxiv. This is the first study to confirm our fear that variants have been evolving in the U.S. all along—we just haven’t been looking for them. But it won’t be the last. In fact, another preprint of a study conducted in Illinois was published just today.

What follows is an analysis of the soon-to-be-published preprint, sent to me in advance by a colleague at the Wexner Medical Center.

Previously I’ve discussed how the virus changes, through random alterations to its genetic code that accumulate with every passing host. The more viral transmission, the more variants of the virus lurking about. These variants may develop virus-enhancing properties, such as greater infectivity as we’ve seen with the UK and South African variants, or immune resistance, whether from naturally occurring antibodies or vaccines.

Originally published on Forbes (January 15, 2021)
© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.