COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KXAN) — Texas A&M University researchers have identified a new COVID-19 variant that originated in the state. Scientists at the Texas A&M Global Health Research Complex (GHRC) identified the variant — called BV-1 after Brazos Valley, where it originated — from a saliva sample taken from a student as a part of an ongoing testing program. Researchers believe it’s related to the United Kingdom variant.
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The student with the confirmed case showed mild flu-like symptoms for nearly a month, suggesting this new variant may cause a longer than normal infection in young adults. Although only one mild case has been confirmed, researchers are worried that the variant shows resistance to antibodies. “We do not at present know the full significance of this variant, but it has a combination of mutations similar to other internationally notifiable variants of concern,” GHRC Chief Virologist Ben Neuman said in a press release. “This variant combines genetic markers separately associated with rapid spread, severe disease and high resistance to neutralizing antibodies.”
There have been five COVID-19 variants confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but researchers across the world have identified thousands. According to the CDC, the UK variant is now the most common strain in the United States.