Preliminary data shows that the coronavirus variant first identified in New York, B1526, “is a more infectious variant" and coupled with the variant first identified in the UK, accounts for 51% of all cases in New York City at present, city health officials said Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, we have found that the new variants of Covid-19 are continuing to spread, and when you combine the variant of concern B117, the one first reported in the UK and the new variant of interest, B1526 that was first reported here in New York, together these new variants account for 51% of all cases that we have in the city right now,” the city’s top health advisor Jay Varma said Wednesday.
Preliminary analysis indicates that the B1526 variant first identified in New York, “is probably more infectious than older strains of the virus,” Varma said. “It may be similar in infectiousness to the B117, the UK strain, but we're not certain about this yet.”
The variant identified in New York in particular “is increasing in prevalence across New York city, representing about 39% of all samples sequenced by the pandemic response lab” compared to 31% the week prior, according to New York City Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi. “The increasing prevalence suggests the B1526 variant is a more infectious variant.”
Varma notes preliminary analysis does not show that the variant first identified in New York causes more severe illness or reduces the effectiveness of vaccines.
“It’s important to emphasize of course this is preliminary” he said as the city works with the state and health officials across the country.
A couple weeks ago, two separate teams of researchers said they found a worrying new coronavirus variant in New York City and elsewhere in the Northeast that carries mutations that help it evade the body's natural immune response — as well as the effects of monoclonal antibody treatments.