Ohio State Researchers ID More Contagious Strain of Coronavirus in Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Scientists at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center have discovered a new variant of the coronavirus that is likely more contagious than previous version of the virus.

In a statement issued Wednesday morning, Ohio State said the variant carries the same mutation as the United Kingdom strain of the virus, as well as three other mutations that have not been previously seen together in SARS-CoV2, the official name of the coronavirus that spreads COVID-19.

“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 chairman of the division of molecular pathology, in a statement. “We know this shift didn’t come from the U.K. or South African branches of the virus.”

There is currently no indication that the mutations will impact the effectiveness of the vaccines currently being distributed, researchers said.

Wexner Medical Center has been sequencing the genome of viruses in patients with COVID-19 since March 2020 to monitor the evolution of the virus. The new variant was discovered in one patient from Ohio, so researchers do not yet know the prevalence of the strain in the population. 

Discovery of the variant suggests that the same mutation is occurring independently around the world.

“Viruses naturally mutate and evolve over time, but the changes seen in the last two months have been more prominent than in the first months of the pandemic,” Jones said.

SOURCE: Wexner Medical Center

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.