University of Texas at Austin: Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery

University of Texas at Austin: Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery. “A highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant was unknowingly spreading for months in the United States by October 2020, according to a new study from researchers with The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. Scientists first discovered it in early December in the United Kingdom, where the highly contagious and more lethal variant is thought to have originated.”

New York Times: Virus Variants Likely Evolved Inside People With Weak Immune Systems

New York Times: Virus Variants Likely Evolved Inside People With Weak Immune Systems. “A coronavirus typically gains mutations on a slow-but-steady pace of about two per month. But this variant, called B.1.1.7, had acquired 23 mutations that were not on the virus first identified in China. And 17 of those had developed all at once, sometime after it diverged from its most recent ancestor. Experts said there’s only one good hypothesis for how this happened: At some point the virus must have infected someone with a weak immune system, allowing it to adapt and evolve for months inside the person’s body before being transmitted to others.”

NBC News: The vaccines are working. That’s why we shouldn’t panic about variants.

NBC News: The vaccines are working. That’s why we shouldn’t panic about variants.. “Several new coronavirus variants have been identified in the United States in recent weeks, and scientists are grappling with whether these strains threaten the country — and, if so, how. One thing experts agree on, though, is that the available vaccines have outperformed expectations — even when it comes to what are known as the ‘variants of concern.’”

Washington Post: Scientists underestimated the coronavirus — and are racing to keep up with evolution

Washington Post: Scientists underestimated the coronavirus — and are racing to keep up with evolution. “Evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom knew it was only a matter of time: The coronavirus would turn into an even more formidable foe, able to dodge the disease-fighting antibodies that protect people after being infected or vaccinated. He even knew which mutation was likely to give it that superpower. He just didn’t know it would happen quite this fast.”

AP: Speedy variants power virus surge sweeping Europe

AP: Speedy variants power virus surge sweeping Europe. “The virus swept through a nursery school and an adjacent elementary school in the Milan suburb of Bollate with amazing speed. In a matter of just days, 45 children and 14 staff members had tested positive. Genetic analysis confirmed what officials already suspected: The highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in England was racing through the community, a densely packed city of nearly 40,000 with a chemical plant and Pirelli bicycle tire factory a 15-minute drive from the heart of Milan.”

Covid-19: Mystery UK person with Brazil variant found (BBC)

BBC: Covid-19: Mystery UK person with Brazil variant found. “A mystery person in the UK infected with the Covid variant of concern first found in Brazil has now been traced. Last week, it was announced that six cases of the P.1 variant had been found in the UK – but the identity of one of the cases was unknown. The person, who lives in Croydon, has been traced, as have their contacts.”

New York Times: Brazil’s Covid Crisis Is a Warning to the Whole World, Scientists Say

New York Times: Brazil’s Covid Crisis Is a Warning to the Whole World, Scientists Say. “No other nation that experienced such a major outbreak is still grappling with record-setting death tolls and a health care system on the brink of collapse. Many other hard-hit nations are, instead, taking tentative steps toward a semblance of normalcy. But Brazil is battling a more contagious variant that has trampled one major city and is spreading to others, even as Brazilians toss away precautionary measures that could keep them safe.”

New York Times: Virus Variant in Brazil Infected Many Who Had Already Recovered From Covid-19

New York Times: Virus Variant in Brazil Infected Many Who Had Already Recovered From Covid-19. “…three studies offer a sobering history of P.1’s meteoric rise in the Amazonian city of Manaus. It most likely arose there in November and then fueled a record-breaking spike of coronavirus cases. It came to dominate the city partly because of an increased contagiousness, the research found. But it also gained the ability to infect some people who had immunity from previous bouts of Covid-19. And laboratory experiments suggest that P.1 could weaken the protective effect of a Chinese vaccine now in use in Brazil.”

New coronavirus variant: here is what scientists know about B1525 (The Conversation)

The Conversation: New coronavirus variant: here is what scientists know about B1525. “Scientists are keeping a watchful eye on this variant because it has several mutations in the gene that makes the spike protein – the part of the virus that latches onto human cells. These changes include the presence of the increasingly well-known mutation called E484K, which allows the virus to partly evade the immune system, and is found in the variants first identified in South Africa (B1351) and Brazil (P1).”

Houston Chronicle: Houston is first city to record all major COVID strains, new study finds

Houston Chronicle: Houston is first city to record all major COVID strains, new study finds. “Since the virus was first detected in the Houston region nearly a year ago, [Dr. James] Musser’s team has sequenced more than 20,000 genomes of COVID-19. The most recent batch of roughly 3,000 genomes sequenced from patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 included variants from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.”

Washington Post: U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds

Washington Post: U.K. coronavirus variant spreading rapidly through United States, study finds. “The variant, known as B.1.1.7, is more contagious than earlier forms of the coronavirus and may also be more lethal, although that is far less certain. It carries a package of mutations, including many which change the structure of the spike protein on the surface of the virus and enhance its ability to bind to human receptor cells. People infected with the variant have higher viral loads, studies have shown, and they may shed more virus when coughing or sneezing.”

New York Times: New York City Barely Tests for Virus Variants. Can That Change?

New York Times: New York City Barely Tests for Virus Variants. Can That Change?. “In New York City, despite its many major hospitals and research institutions, only about 55 coronavirus cases a day on average last month were sequenced and screened for more contagious variants. That amounted to just 1 percent of the city’s new cases, a rate far below the 10 percent that some experts say is needed to understand the dynamics of New York’s epidemic at a time when more contagious variants, including some that may blunt the effectiveness of existing vaccines, have led to surges of cases in Britain, Brazil and South Africa.”