ATLANTA - It's news no one wants to hear, but researchers say they've found at least seven new coronavirus variants - all of them based right here in the United States.
In a non-peer-reviewed posting, the researchers said the variants are related to each other and identified them as Q677P. They think the original variant then mutated into at least six other forms. Cases have been found all over the United States, but the variants seem to be concentrated in the South-Central and Southwestern parts of the country.
The paper specially mentions Lousiana and New Mexico, where by the middle of January the Q677P variants could be found in 27.8% and 11.3% of the coronavirus tests checked for genomic sequencing.
Because only a small portion of COVID-19 tests are sent off for genomic sequencing, experts say we likely have only identified a portion of those variant cases, including Q677P ones.
Officials have already warned about three other variants, one originating in the United Kingdom, another in South Africa, and the third from Brazil. At least 37 cases of the UK variants have already been located here in Georgia. Health experts warn by the end of next month the UK variant could make up a majority of U.S. COVID-19 cases.
Researchers were concerned about the Q677P variants because it shows the virus keeps evolving, looking for better ways to enter the body and spread. They're worried that a mutation could pop-up that's resistant to the current vaccines or treatment methods. That's why they say it's so important that people keep up their guard.
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