New SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Found in New York
A recent preprint study from Columbia and California Institute of Technology (A.P. West, Jr., et. al.) has revealed that a new SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.526 has been spreading in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut regions. The lineage has several mutations to the spike protein that is analogous to the ones found in the South African and Brazil strains.
This new lineage is worrisome because like some of the other novel strains, it appears to have the ability to hinder the body’s natural immune response as well as thwart the effects of monoclonal antibody treatments.
Despite the fact that both positive cases and deaths in the US appear to be much lower now compared to the beginning of the winter surge, we are not out of the woods yet. Another wave from all the new strains is possible if vaccine rollout continues to be haphazard and slow, and if the general population start to flout pandemic public health guidance due to "Covid fatigue".
The problem with a botched and prolonged pandemic response is that newer strains will continue to evolve and spread. The fact that the US now has two new homegrown strains compared to other nations is testament to this issue. If a new mutation develops that lower vaccine efficacy to below 50%, we may have more tough months and years ahead.