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This state just found a new COVID-19 variant

What do we know about the new Louisiana COVID-19 variant?

A photo of the virus that causes COVID-19.
A photo of the virus that causes COVID-19. A new coronavirus variant has been detected in Louisiana.
NIAID-RML via Associated Press

A new coronavirus variant has been detected in Louisiana.

The EVT Viral Genomics and Sequencing Lab at Louisiana State University Health Shreveport detected a new COVID-19 variant last week. KSLA reports.

  • The variant — called B.1.630 — was found in two samples collected in Baton Rouge.
  • The variant reportedly has the E484Q mutation, which means it could escape the immune system and cause infection, per KSLA.

Jeremy Kamil, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at LSU Health Shreveport, told NOLA.com that the variant isn’t an immediate health threat.

  • “This is mostly academic curiosity,” he said.

Dr. Krista Queen, the director of viral genomics and surveillance for the Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats at LSUHS, said the vaccine is recommended to combat this new variant.

  • “Even though the predominance of this variant is low, we will continue to keep an eye on it and watch for any changes or if it starts to increase,” she told KSLA. “Any lineage or sub-lineage of SARS-CoV-2 with this E484Q mutation is watched because of the possibility of immune evasion. Some of the variants that do not have other mutations that increase transmissibility will eventually die out, but it is important to monitor any changes in abundance.”

The B.1.630 variant was first found in the United States back in March 2021. It does not have a Greek alphabet designation like the delta or lambda variant because it has not spread far yet.

New variants have struggled to spread because of the delta variant, which has become the dominant variant across the world. In fact, most recent COVID-19 variants “pale in comparison” to the delta variant, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

  • “Delta is the dominant variant, in all of these other variants kind of pale in comparison when it comes to their ability to infect,” Adalja said on Hill.TV’s “Rising” program.
  • “And that’s what matters to this virus — just finding more people to infect, and delta is crowding all of the others out,” he added.

Adalja said that the new COVID-19 variants tend to show up and leave pretty quickly because there are fewer hosts to infect.

  • “What we’re finding is yes, there are other variants that occur even in the United States, but when it comes to delta, because it is so much more fit, because it is so much more efficiently transmitted, these other variants kind of come and go but they never get a toehold because it’s just kind of simple Darwinian natural selection,” he said.