Worrisome Covid mutation that may weaken effectiveness of vaccines found in New York


NEW YORK: A new form of coronavirus variant is spreading rapidly in New York City and it carries a worrisome mutation that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines, according to The New York Times.
As per the research by two teams, the new variant –B.1.526 — first appeared in samples collected in New York in November. However, by the middle of February, it appeared in about one in four viral sequences in the database shared by the scientists.
According to CNN, the experts have said that it appears in people affected in diverse neighbourhoods of New York City, they said, and is “scattered in the Northeast”.
While one group of researchers are from Caltech and the other is by researchers at Columbia University.
“We observed a steady increase in the detection rate from late December to mid-February, with an alarming rise to 12.7 per cent in the past two weeks,” CNN quoted one team, at Columbia University Medical Centre, as saying in a report that has yet to be published, although it is scheduled to appear in pre-print version this week.
While neither of the studies has been published in a scientific journal, the consistency in the results has suggested that the variant’s spread is true, the experts have opined.
According to the NYT report, the patients infected with the virus-carrying that mutation were about six years older on average and more likely to have been hospitalised.
“We see cases in Westchester, in the Bronx and Queens, the lower part of Manhattan and in Brooklyn…So it seems to be widespread. It’s not a single outbreak,” said Dr David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center.
“It’s not particularly happy news,” said Michel Nussenzweig, an immunologist at Rockefeller University who was not involved in the new research.
“But just knowing about it is good because then we can perhaps do something about it,” he said.
The New York variant is more worrisome than the one that is spreading rapidly in California, he added.


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