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New Texas COVID-19 variant may resist antibodies, study says

Scientists at Texas A&M University found a new COVID-19 variant that might not be defeated by antibodies

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Texas-Rio Grande Valley’s medical students help during a COVID-19 vaccination event at the medical school on Thursday, April 8,2021, in Edinburg, Texas.

Texas-Rio Grande Valley’s medical students help during a COVID-19 vaccination event at the medical school on Thursday, April 8, 2021, in Edinburg, Texas.

Delcia Lopez, The Monitor via Associated Press

Researchers at Texas A&M University recently identified a new variant to the novel coronavirus that may be resistant to COVID-19 antibodies, according to multiple reports. It’s unclear if the variant is resistant to vaccines or not.

What’s the Texas variant?

Texas A&M University researchers said they found a new variant — called the BV-1 variant or the Brazos Valley variant — in one saliva sample taken from a student at the school back in March. Researchers said they only found one example of the variant so far, according to NBC DFW.

  • “We do not at present know the full significance of this variant, but it has a combination of mutations similar to other internationally notifiable variants of concern,” Global Health Research Complex chief virologist Ben Neuman said in a statement. “This variant combines genetic markers separately associated with rapid spread, severe disease and high resistance to neutralizing antibodies.”
  • “We have not detected any more instances of this variant,” Neuman added. “We have not grown or tested this virus in any way. This announcement is based purely on the genetic sequence analysis done in the lab.”

Texas COVID-19 variant details

  • According to the Texas A&M University scientists, the new variant “is related” to the variant originally discovered in the United Kingdom.
  • The researchers said the infected student first tested positive on March 5. The student tested positive again on March 25. This may suggest “the variant may cause a longer-lasting infection than is typical of COVID-19 for adults ages 18-24,” according to the Texas A&M University. Most COVID-19 infections last about two weeks.

What’s next

Per NBC DFW, the university said the BV-1 variant is only one example of COVID-19 variantsspreading throughout the world. The researchers said more needs to be done to understand variants.

  • “Sequencing helps to provide an early warning system for new variants,” Neuman said, according to NBC DFW. “Though we may not yet understand the full significance of BV-1, the variant highlights an ongoing need for rigorous surveillance and genomic testing, including among young adults with no symptoms or only mild symptoms.”