Researchers have reportedly identified a new COVID-19 variant spreading rapidly in New York City, raising concerns the mutation may weaken the effectiveness of the current vaccines.
According to the New York Times and CNN, scientists at Columbia University first detected this new variant in the city last November.
The team also found the variant has similarities with the South African strain, which is known to be more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines.
Against such a backdrop, New York authorities stress that they'll do more research.
"So we are able to detect and track this new strain that's been reported and we'll continue to follow it. We have the ability also to now collect information about those patients and to understand better whether or not they have different features or outcomes."
As the emergence of new variants continue to pose threats to the international quest to combat the pandemic, U.S. public health experts are especially worried that the vaccines could become less effective as these mutations become the dominant strain.
The Director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy told CNN Thursday that the new variants could change the pandemic's trajectory in the country, leading to another massive outbreak by mid-March.
Meanwhile, representatives of German pharmaceutical company Curevac told EU lawmakers Thursday that preliminary trials on animals of the company's COVID-19 vaccine candidate showed it to be effective against the UK and South African variants.
Saying the trial results will be disclosed very soon, the firm added that the company expects its vaccine to be approved by the EU by June.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.