March 03, 2021 — Houston has had instances of each regarding variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, based on 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 carry the masks mandate there, and “open Texas 100%.”
The preprint examine, 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 instances seen in that metropolis over the previous yr.
Houston is the fourth largest metropolis within the U.S. with an ethnically various inhabitants and a global port. It’s additionally house to a number of the nation’s prime virus hunters.
The examine used a big sufficient pattern of viruses to provide a “deep and practical” image of the state of affairs there, mentioned Keith Jerome, MD, PhD, head of the virology division on the College of Washington, in Seattle.
“It is a very spectacular piece of labor,” mentioned Jerome, who was not concerned within the analysis. “It is among the most complete appears that we have had of the viruses in a given space anyplace in the US.”
The examine’s authors say that Houston could be 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 probably that there are different cities within the nation which have all these variants and easily aren’t conscious,” mentioned examine writer 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 world 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 yr.