CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale researchers have discovered a new type of COVID-19 virus.
Keith Gagnon, SIU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, said his lab had discovered variables that accounted for about half of the cases in the United States.
The variant known as 20C-US could be added to a growing list of mutations like those found in the UK and South Africa. It may also be easier to pass on than other breeds.
“Here. We̵7;ve found it,” Gagnon said in a press release. “It’s home grown and certainly ubiquitous, and we’re the first to characterize it.”
The team’s performance followed the variant’s earliest appearance in the United States to Texas in May. Since then, Gagnon said the variant has undergone two new mutations.
“We estimate that 20C-US may already be the most prominent SARS-CoV-2 variant in the United States,” Gagnon said in a paper on the discovery titled “The emergence and evolution of the widespread new SARS-CoV-2 variant. In the United States. “
Gagnon’s research looked at surveillance of the viral genome as it worked through the population. A news release from SIU said this type of research could lead to early identification of new species and help health workers determine the appropriate response.
Gagnon explained that the increase in the strain in the United States coincides with the second and third wave of COVID-19 infections in the country and may suggest that it can be more contagious.
“There are hundreds of species floating around, so to be unique suggests that it might be more transmitted,” Gagnon said in a press release.
The first team noticed the possibility of the variant while looking at their own SARS-CoV-2 genome sequence data from Illinois.
“The type of data increased from the page when we looked at it, so we later started looking at national and global genome sequencing data,” Gagnon said.
The analysis found that the US variant was most prevalent in the upper Midwest and did not spread significantly beyond national borders.
As the first vaccine is still administered in the United States, Gagnon said it was not clear how this variant would affect its efficacy.