Houston Is First City to Document All SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern

March 12, 2021

Researchers at the Houston Methodist Research Institute have discovered that all SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, some of which are believed to have a higher capacity for transmission, are found among patients in the greater Houston metropolitan area. Houston is the first city in the United States to have all variants documented by genome sequencing.

James Musser, MD, PhD, chair of the department of pathology and genomic medicine, director of the Center for Molecular & Translational Human Infectious Diseases Research, Fondren Presidential Distinguished Chair, and his colleagues, sequenced the genomes of 20,453 SARS-CoV-2 virus specimens from COVID-19 patients at Houston Methodist Hospital starting in March 2020. They found the UK variant (B.1.1.7), South Africa variant (B.1.351), Brazil variants (P.1 and P.2), and two related California variants (B.1.429 and B.1.427).

As vaccines are deployed worldwide, it will remain vital to track genomic changes in the virus, understand consequences of the mutations, and follow the movements of important mutated strains. This type of information can help determine when vaccines should be revised or updated and can inform public health and medical response in communities to help slow this pandemic.

See the study for more detail in the American Journal of Pathology, posted March 16, 2021.


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