A new study has revealed that there are at least seven new homegrown COVID-19 variants in the US.
According to the study, all of the variants were discovered between August and November of 2020 and have developed independently and have been spotted in several states.
“There’s clearly something going on with this mutation. I think there’s a clear signature of an evolutionary benefit,” explained Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University and one of the study’s co-authors.
The team discovered the strains after looking at the sequences deposited into GISAID, a global database that researchers are using to share genetic information about COVID-19.
The viruses all had a specific change in Q677P, the amino acid making up that part of the spike protein.
The first strain was called Robin 1 and was found in at least 30 US states, with most in the Midwest.
The second strain was discovered on Oct 6, 2020, from Alabama and is named Robin 2 which is similar to the first but is seen in the Southeast.
Another strain called Pelican was found in Oregon and has since turned up in 12 other states as well as Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, and India.
“The remaining Q677H sub-lineages each contain around 100 or fewer sequences, and are named: Yellowhammer, detected mostly in the southeast US; Bluebird, mostly in the northeast United States; Quail, mainly in the Southwest and Northeast; and Mockingbird, mainly in the South-central and East coast states,” added the researchers.
The study however has not been peer-reviewed yet while there is no data yet on whether the new strains are more infectious or severe.
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