The New York Times is reporting that a novel variant of COVID-19 called B.1.526 has been detected in New York City and may now account for one-in-four cases in the region. Researchers say the B.1.526 variant includes mutations that may help the virus evade vaccines and affect how tightly it binds to human cells.
The new variant, called B.1.526, first appeared in samples collected in the city in November. By the middle of this month, it accounted for about one in four viral sequences appearing in a database shared by scientists. One study of the new variant, led by a group at Caltech, was posted online on Tuesday. The other, by researchers at Columbia University, was published on Thursday morning.