NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Separate teams of researchers have found yet another coronavirus variant – this one in New York City.

The new variant may be able to evade present vaccines. But vaccine companies are already on the case, CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Thursday.

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All viruses mutate and evolve. That’s what they do. And as we genetically sequence more and more virus samples, we will find more and more mutations, most of which are either harmless or deadly to the virus, itself.

But some mutations make a virus more infectious or deadlier. Still, virus experts tell us not to become alarmed over every variant that may be found.

“We need to just consider this a variant of interest, something that is interesting that we need to follow and track. But it doesn’t change anything about our public health concern. We need more data and studies to understand that,” said Dr. Jay Varma, the city’s senior advisor for public health.

A number of COVID variants have already been identified, notably in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. Others are still being investigated in California and now New York.

Watch: Ali Bauman’s 11 p.m. Report:

Dr. David Ho’s team at Columbia University has also detected the mutation. Ho said it alters the spike in protein, which enables the virus to dodge antibodies that could result in a weaker immune response.

“We don’t know whether it’s more transmissible, but we see it rising in prevalence within our patient population,” Ho told CBS2’s Ali Bauman.

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The New York variant, dubbed B.1526, has shown a steady and alarming increase in detection over the past few weeks in the city and elsewhere in the Northeast, suggesting that this mutation may in fact be more infectious.

It also seems to strike slightly older patients and cause more hospitalizations.

Some of the mutations appear to be less susceptible to present vaccines and to the monoclonal antibody drugs that are effective in early COVID.

Still, some experts believe that people who have recovered from COVID or have been vaccinated should still be able to fight off this coronavirus. They may get sick, but not seriously ill.

It’s clear that as the virus continues to evolve, vaccines will have to be tweaked. That’s happening even now as Moderna has already manufactured a vaccine for testing against the new variants. Pfizer has said it is also adapting its vaccine.


These new vaccines might be used as boosters or combined with present versions of the shots to form what’s called a multi-valent vaccine that covers several strains with one shot — similar to the flu vaccine.

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That all depends on the results of new clinical trials.

Dr. Max Gomez