March 03, 2021 — Houston has had circumstances of each regarding variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, in response to a big new genome sequencing research.
Public well being authorities have flagged the six variants recognized within the research as problematic, as a result of they’ve gene modifications that will make the virus extra contagious or assist it escape immunity from vaccines or previous infections.
The brand new discovering comes as Texas Governor Greg Abbott introduced that he would raise the masks mandate there, and “open Texas 100%.”
The preprint research, which has not but been totally vetted by exterior scientists, decoded genomes of SARS-CoV2 viruses remoted from greater than 20,400 COVID sufferers, a quantity that represents about 4% of all of the COVID circumstances seen in that metropolis over the previous 12 months.
Houston is the fourth largest metropolis within the U.S. with an ethnically various inhabitants and a world port. It’s additionally house to a number of the nation’s high virus hunters.
The research used a big sufficient pattern of viruses to present a “deep and lifelike” image of the state of affairs there, stated Keith Jerome, MD, PhD, head of the virology division on the College of Washington, in Seattle.
“This can be a very spectacular piece of labor,” stated Jerome, who was not concerned within the analysis. “It is likely one of the most complete appears that we have had of the viruses in a given space anyplace in the USA.”
The research’s authors say that Houston often is the first metropolis to search out all of the variants, but it surely in all probability isn’t the one one to have them.
“it is seemingly that there are different cities within the nation which have all these variants and easily aren’t conscious,” stated research creator Wesley Lengthy, MD, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital.
The genomes analyzed for the research date again to March 2020. The Houston Methodist well being system is a part of a worldwide community of genome sequencing labs referred to as the ARTIC Community, which is all the time looking out for brand new viral variants.
The variants detected within the research first confirmed up in testing in December, Lengthy says, and extra circumstances have been detected in January and February of this 12 months.