New COVID variant

Researchers at Texas A&M with the Global Health Research Complex, or GHRC, have discovered a new variant of COVID-19, named BV-1, originating in Brazos Valley.

According to an April 19 Texas A&M Today article, this variant has been found in only one person — a student at A&M — who experienced mild symptoms.

According to the article, the student tested positive at GHRC on March 5 and again on March 25, longer than the typical two-week recovery time seen with other strains of the virus. The student’s symptoms were “cold-like” and the student recovered fully by April 2. This student lived off-campus, but is involved in campus activities.

The researchers have determined that other variants of COVID-19 with the same “genetic markers” as the BV-1 variant have been unresponsive to some 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,” Ben Neuman, GHRC chief virologist, said in the article. “This variant combines genetic markers separately associated with rapid spread, severe disease and high resistance to neutralizing antibodies.”

Neuman confirmed there have been no other reports or discoveries of this variant in any other patients, and no tests have been performed on the variant other than observing the genetic sequence.

“While many U.S. labs limit sequencing to severe COVID-19 cases, Texas A&M is casting a wider net, including asymptomatic students, to find concerning variants before they cause severe illnesses,” the article reads.

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