WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine have discovered two new COVID-19 variants likely originated in the United States.
The findings include a new variant that carries a mutation identical to the strain found in Britain, and the evolution of another strain with three other gene mutations that were not previously seen, the university said in a news release on Wednesday.
The new variant was discovered in one patient from Ohio and the prevalence of the strain in the population remains unknown, while the evolving strain with three new mutations has become the dominant virus in Columbus during a three week period in late December 2020 and January, the release said.
"The mutations in the Columbus strain are likely to make the virus more infectious, making it easier for the virus to pass from person to person," it said.
"At this point, we have no data to believe that these mutations will have any impact on the effectiveness of vaccines now in use," said Peter Mohler, a co-author of the study and chief scientific officer at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and vice dean for research at the College of Medicine.
These findings are published in BioRxiv, an open access preprint repository for the biological sciences.
U.S. COVID-19 cases have topped 23,500,000, with more than 390,000 death toll, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.