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 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 elevate the masks mandate there, and “open Texas 100%.”
The preprint research, 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 yr.
Houston is the fourth largest metropolis within the U.S. with an ethnically numerous inhabitants and a global port. It’s additionally residence to among the nation’s high virus hunters.
The research used a big sufficient pattern of viruses to offer a “deep and real looking” 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 to be like that we have had of the viruses in a given space anyplace in the US.”
The research’s authors say that Houston stands out as the first metropolis to search out all of the variants, nevertheless 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 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 world community of genome sequencing labs known as the ARTIC Community, which is at all times looking out for brand new viral variants.
The variants detected within the research first confirmed up in testing in December, Lengthy says, and extra instances have been detected in January and February of this yr.