ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – University of New Mexico scientists have found a new COVID-19 mutation in New Mexico and nearby Western states, according to a paper posted on medRxiv. Darrell Dinwiddie, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, and Daryl Domman, PhD, assistant professor in the Center for Global Health said the new variant, Q677P, was found on the “spike” protein.

According to the report, the “spike” protein is a distinctive feature that plays a role in helping the virus gain access to host cells. Researchers say there is no evidence that the variant is more transmissible, severe, or makes vaccines any less effective.

According to the report, the pair found that 11.3% of the genomes collected from New Mexico between December 2020 and January 2021 reflect the new variant. The newly identified variant has been found in at least 21 other states.