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Two new strains of coronavirus originate from United States, scientists report

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Scientists at Ohio State University said on Wednesday they had found two new coronavirus mutations that they said have roots in the United States, one of which is likely more infectious than previously existing strains, a worrying prospect as the American epidemic continues to break records with an increase in the number of new cases.

Healthcare workers administer free Covid-19 tests to patients in cars in the parking lot of the … [+] Columbus West Family Health and Wellness Center in Columbus, Ohio, in November 2020.

AFP via Getty Images Highlights

Using genome sequencing of coronavirus patients, scientists at Ohio State Medical Center Wexner claim to have identified a patient in Ohio who was infected with a strain of coronavirus with a mutation identical to the variant first identified in the UK, however, researchers believe it developed from a strain already present in the US.

The team also identified another new strain of coronavirus they said developed three previously invisible genetic mutations together, which quickly became the most common variant present in Columbus in just three weeks, they wrote in a statement from hurry.

Scientists have revealed that mutations in the two new strains of the virus impact the tiny spikes lining the surface of coronavirus cells that allow the virus to attach and infect human cells.

They believe mutations in the strain found in Columbus patients may make the virus more infectious, such as the mutation first identified in the UK, which an early study found is 56% more contagious.

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The big question is whether these mutations will make current vaccines and treatment approaches less effective, Peter Mohler, scientific director of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center who co-authored the study, said in a statement. At this stage, we have no data to suggest that these mutations will have an impact on the effectiveness of the vaccines currently in use.

Key context

The new strains of coronavirus have raised concerns, especially those that may be more contagious. The coronavirus variant first identified in the UK is believed to be behind the recent surge in new infections in the country. This virus is more contagious than previous strains, and countries around the world have banned travelers from Britain in an attempt to keep the new variant out of their borders. Cases of the so-called British strain have already been identified in the United States. Former CDC director Tom Frieden said last week that the new strain has the potential to push the United States near the worst-case scenario. The United States is already battling the world’s most devastating coronavirus outbreak, with a Johns Hopkins University tracker counting more than 22.8 million confirmed cases and 381,130 deaths.

Further reading

Seven days since the Capitol attack have been the deadliest in the Covid pandemic (Forbes)

Former CDC Director Releases Horrifying Outlook for New Covid Strain (Forbes)

New, more contagious strain of British coronavirus found in Connecticut Here are the states with cases so far (Forbes)

New strain of coronavirus is 56% more infectious, scientists say (Forbes)

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