March 03, 2021 — Houston has had circumstances of each regarding variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, in accordance with a big new genome sequencing research.

Public well being authorities have flagged the six variants recognized within the research as problematic, as a result of they’ve gene modifications which will make the virus extra contagious or assist it escape immunity from vaccines or previous infections.

The brand new discovering comes as Texas Governor Greg Abbott introduced that he would raise the masks mandate there, and “open Texas 100%.”

The preprint research, which has not but been totally vetted by outdoors scientists, decoded genomes of SARS-CoV2 viruses remoted from greater than 20,400 COVID sufferers, a quantity that represents about 4% of all of the COVID circumstances seen in that metropolis over the previous yr. 

Houston is the fourth largest metropolis within the U.S. with an ethnically various inhabitants and a global port.  It’s additionally house to a few of the nation’s high virus hunters.

The research used a big sufficient pattern of viruses to present a “deep and reasonable” image of the state of affairs there, mentioned Keith Jerome, MD, PhD, head of the virology division on the College of Washington, in Seattle.

“It is a very spectacular piece of labor,” mentioned Jerome, who was not concerned within the analysis. “It is among the most complete seems to be that we have had of the viruses in a given space wherever in the US.”

The research’s authors say that Houston stands out as the first metropolis to seek out all of the variants, nevertheless it most likely isn’t the one one to have them.

“it is doubtless that there are different cities within the nation which have all these variants and easily aren’t conscious,” mentioned research writer Wesley Lengthy, MD, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital.

The genomes analyzed for the research date again to March 2020. The Houston Methodist well being system is a part of a worldwide community of genome sequencing labs referred to as the ARTIC Community, which is at all times looking out for brand spanking new viral variants.

The variants detected within the research first confirmed up in testing in December, Lengthy says, and extra circumstances have been detected in January and February of this yr.