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Researchers discover 'alarming rise' of new variant in New York City
Researchers say they’ve discovered a new coronavirus variant in New York City that carries with it a mutation that could enable the virus to get past some of the human body’s natural immune response, in addition to monoclonal antibody treatments.

In an excerpt of a pre-print report shared with CNN on Thursday, a rep from a Columbia University Medical Center research team noted an “alarming rise” of the detection rate to 12.7 percent over the past two weeks. The variant, known as B.1.526, is said to have been detected in diverse neighborhoods of NYC, as well as “scattered” areas elsewhere in the Northeast region.

Quote:“A concern is that [this variant] might be beginning to overtake other strains, just like the UK and South African variants,” Dr. David Ho, the director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia who led the research team, said Thursday.

Of particular note is the presence in this variant of a mutation called E484K, which is said to potentially allow the virus to get past some of the body’s immune response and has been confirmed to also appear in another previously disclosed variant known as B.1.351, which made news out of South Africa.

A Caltech-provided study of the new variant was released Tuesday, while the Columbia study was released on Thursday. Neither have been vetted via peer review, though researchers are adamant that what they’ve discovered regarding the spread of the variant marks a crucial learning moment as the pandemic continues to be a cause of concern amid the vaccine rollout.


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