LSU Health Shreveport Discovers New COVID-19 Variant
LSU Health Shreveport is first in the state to sequence and report that a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been detected in Louisiana. The new variant, called B.1.630, was sequenced last week from two samples collected in Baton Rouge.
Dr. Chris Kevil, Vice Chancellor for Research at LSU Health Shreveport said:
“Thanks to our many partnerships across the state, our EVT Viral Genomics and Sequencing Lab is able to sequence a large variety of samples which increases our chances of finding new variants. Genomic sequencing and the data this science provides is important to continuing our mission of public health surveillance so we can help best protect citizens of Louisiana throughout the duration of this pandemic,”
The B.1.630 variant was first detected in the United States earlier in March of 2021. It does not have variant classification or a Greek alphabet name like the commonly known Delta variant because it accounts for such a small proportion of samples. It does contain a mutation, which could help the virus escape the host immune system and lead to infection. Currently, there have only been 79 of these variants found in the U.S., so the predominance is very low.
“Even though the predominance of this variant is low, we will continue to keep an eye on it and watch for any changes or if it starts to increase,” said Dr. Krista Queen, Director of Viral Genomics and Surveillance for the Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats at LSUHS. “Any lineage or sub-lineage of SARS-CoV-2 with this E484Q mutation is watched because of the possibility of immune evasion. Some of the variants that do not have other mutations that increase transmissibility will eventually die out, but it is important to monitor any changes in abundance.”
While viruses that contain this mutation may be able to escape the immune response and resist antibodies, vaccination remains our best tool to prevent transmission and severe illness.
Learn more about the Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats and LSUHS COVID-19 vaccination clinics at www.lsuhs.edu/covid19.