March 03, 2021 — Houston has had instances of each regarding variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, in keeping with a big new genome sequencing examine.
Public well being authorities have flagged the six variants recognized within the examine 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 elevate the masks mandate there, and “open Texas 100%.”
The preprint examine, which has not but been totally vetted by outdoors 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 instances seen in that metropolis over the previous 12 months.
Houston is the fourth largest metropolis within the U.S. with an ethnically numerous inhabitants and a world port. It’s additionally dwelling to among the nation’s prime virus hunters.
The examine used a big sufficient pattern of viruses to offer a “deep and sensible” image of the scenario there, stated Keith Jerome, MD, PhD, head of the virology division on the College of Washington, in Seattle.
“It is a very spectacular piece of labor,” stated Jerome, who was not concerned within the analysis. “It is without doubt one of the most complete appears that we have had of the viruses in a given space anyplace in america.”
The examine’s authors say that Houston stands out as the first metropolis to search out all of the variants, however it in all probability isn’t the one one to have them.
“it is doubtless that there are different cities within the nation which have all these variants and easily aren’t conscious,” stated examine creator Wesley Lengthy, MD, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital.
The genomes analyzed for the examine date again to March 2020. The Houston Methodist well being system is a part of a worldwide community of genome sequencing labs known as the ARTIC Community, which is all the time looking out for brand spanking new viral variants.
The variants detected within the examine first confirmed up in testing in December, Lengthy says, and extra instances had been detected in January and February of this 12 months.