No announcement yet.

In Oregon, Scientists Find a Virus Variant With a Worrying Mutation

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • In Oregon, Scientists Find a Virus Variant With a Worrying Mutation

    March 5, 2021
    By Apoorva Mandavilli

    Scientists in Oregon have spotted a homegrown version of a fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus that first surfaced in Britain — but now combined with a mutation that may make the variant less susceptible to vaccines.

    The researchers have so far found just a single case of this formidable combination, but genetic analysis suggested that the variant had been acquired in the community and did not arise in the patient.

    “We didn’t import this from elsewhere in the world — it occurred spontaneously,” said Brian O’Roak, a geneticist at Oregon Health and Science University who led the work.

    ...The new version that surfaced in Oregon has the same backbone, but also a mutation — E484K, or “Eek” — seen in variants of the virus circulating in South Africa, Brazil and New York City.

    Lab studies and clinical trials in South Africa indicate that the Eek mutation renders the current vaccines less effective by blunting the body’s immune response. (The vaccines still work, but the findings are worrying enough that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have beguntesting new versions of their vaccines designed to defeat the variant found in South Africa.)

    The B.1.1.7 variant with Eek also has emerged in Britain, designated as a “variant of concern” by scientists. But the virus identified in Oregon seems to have evolved independently, Dr. O’Roak said.