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Highly Contagious Coronavirus Variant Spread Across the Globe – Undetected for Months – Before Its Discovery
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Highly Contagious Coronavirus Variant Spread Across the Globe – Undetected for Months – Before Its Discovery

Highly Contagious Coronavirus Variant Spread Across the Globe – Undetected for Months – Before Its Discovery

A extremely contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant was unknowingly spreading for months in the United States by October 2020, based on a brand new examine from researchers with The College of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. Scientists first found it in early December in the United Kingdom, the place the extremely contagious and extra deadly variant is assumed to have originated. The journal Rising Infectious Illnesses, which has printed an early-release model of the examine, gives proof that the coronavirus variant B117 (501Y) had unfold throughout the globe undetected for months when scientists found it.

“By the time we realized about the U.Okay. variant in December, it was already silently spreading throughout the globe,” mentioned Lauren Ancel Meyers, the director of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at The College of Texas at Austin and a professor of integrative biology. “We estimate that the B117 variant most likely arrived in the U.S. by October of 2020, two months earlier than we knew it existed.”

A extremely contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant was unknowingly spreading for months in the United States by October 2020, based on a brand new examine from researchers with The College of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. Credit score: Jenna Luecke/College of Texas at Austin

Analyzing knowledge from 15 international locations, researchers estimated the probability that vacationers from the U.Okay. launched the variant into 15 international locations between September 22 and December 7, 2020. They discovered that the virus variant had virtually definitely arrived in all 15 international locations by mid-November. In the U.S., the variant most likely had arrived by mid-October.

“This examine highlights the significance of laboratory surveillance,” Meyers mentioned. “Speedy and intensive sequencing of virus samples is crucial for early detection and monitoring of recent variants of concern.”

At the side of the paper’s publication, consortium members developed a brand new device that decision-makers anyplace in the United States can use in planning for genetic sequencing that helps to detect the presence of variants. To assist the U.S. increase nationwide surveillance of variants, the new on-line calculator signifies the variety of virus samples that have to be sequenced as a way to detect new variants once they first emerge. For instance, if the purpose is to detect an rising variant by the time it’s inflicting 1 out of each 1,000 new COVID-19 infections, roughly 3,000 SARS-CoV-2 optimistic specimens per week should be sequenced.

Analyzing knowledge from 15 international locations, researchers estimated the probability that vacationers from the U.Okay. launched the variant into 15 international locations between Sept. 22 and Dec. 7, 2020. They discovered that the coronavirus variant B117 (501Y) had virtually definitely arrived in all 15 international locations by mid-November. In the U.S., the variant most likely had arrived by mid-October. Credit score: College of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium

“Well being officers are wanting for higher methods to handle the unpredictability of this virus and future variants,” mentioned Spencer Woody, a postdoctoral fellow at the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. “Our new calculator determines what number of optimistic SARS-CoV-2 specimens have to be sequenced to make sure that new threats are recognized as quickly as they begin spreading.”

He defined that the calculator has a second characteristic. “It additionally helps labs determine how shortly they’ll detect new variants, given their present sequencing capability.”

“We created this device to assist federal, state and native well being officers in constructing credible early warning techniques for this and future pandemic threats,” Meyers mentioned.

Extra detailed data on the calculator is here.

Reference: “Danger for Worldwide Importations of Variant SARS-CoV-2 Originating in the United Kingdom” by Zhanwei Du1, Lin Wang1, Bingyi Yang, Sheikh Taslim Ali, Tim Okay. Tsang, Songwei Shan, Peng Wu, Eric H.Y. Lau, Benjamin J. Cowling and Lauren Ancel Meyers, 24 March 2021, Rising Infectious Illnesses.
DOI: 10.3201/eid2705.210050

Along with Meyers, authors of the Rising Infectious Illness paper are Zhanwei Du, Bingyi Yang, Sheikh Taslim Ali, Tim Okay. Tsang, Songwei Shan, Peng Wu, Eric H.Y. Lau and Benjamin J. Cowling of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Illness Epidemiology and Management in Hong Kong and Lin Wang of the College of Cambridge.

The analysis was funded by Hong Kong’s Well being and Medical Analysis Fund, the Nationwide Institutes of Well being and the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

Meyers holds the Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professorship at The College of Texas at Austin.

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