A new report has found that the new variant of coronavirus, which has been found in New York City, has some worrisome mutations. The latest strain has been termed as B.1.526. It has been found in New York for the first time in November 2020. This strain has nearly 25 percent of coronavirus genomes that have been analyzed from New York in February. Experts have updated to a global database, which is known as GISAID. Experts from the California Institute of Technology have found this variant after observing the database for mutations in the spike protein of the virus. The spike protein allows the virus to attach and enter the human cells. The findings of the report have not been peer-reviewed yet.
Scientists have said that there are two versions of the B.1.526 lineage and both have troubling mutations. One version of the strain has a mutation, which is known as E484K that has been found in other coronavirus strains. This mutation has been found in the variants, which have been identified in South Africa and Brazil. Experts have said that there are chances that the mutation might reduce the potential of antibodies to eliminate or inactivate the virus. This mutation might aid the virus to evade COVID19 vaccines. The other version of the B.1.526 lineage contains a mutation called S477N. This mutation might help the virus attach to cells more tightly. Scientists from Columbia University as well have found the B.1.526 variant while they have been sequencing more than 1100 virus samples from patients who have been dealing with COVID19 in the hospital. They have found that a larger portion of patients, who have been diagnosed with a version of B.1.526 strain that has the E484K mutation. This variant has been infecting around 12 percent of patients who have been hospitalized in the hospital. Experts have said that the rate of detection of the variant has been going high for the past few weeks. They fear that the new variant might overtake other variants same as the UK variant and the South African variant, which have spread in other countries.
The Columbian study has been led by Dr. David Ho, who is the director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University. He has said that there is a need to identify if the B.1.526 strain is taking over other strains of the coronavirus. The existence of E484K and S477N mutations in this strain makes it more deadly. It needs to be closely monitored, said Kristian Andersen, the virologist at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.