COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Scientists at Texas A&M University have identified a new variant of the coronavirus.
The variant was discovered by researchers at the school’s Global Health Research Complex. It’s called the BV-1 variant because of its origins in the Brazos Valley, scientists said.
The case was identified in a saliva sample taken from an off-campus A&M student on March 5, and the student tested positive again on March 25. Scientists said this may indicate the BV-1 variant causes a longer infection in adults age 18-24 than is typical for COVID-19. The student only suffered mild, cold-like symptoms and those symptoms were resolved by April 2.
Scientists said this variant is concerning because of its genetic make-up.
“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,” said GHRC Chief Virologist Ben Neuman in a news release issued by the school. “This variant combines genetic markers separately associated with rapid spread, severe disease and high resistance to neutralizing antibodies.”
The A&M student in which the variant was found is the only case of the variant that has been reported thus far, scientists said.
“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,” Neuman said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, five variants of COVID-19 have been identified. This would be the sixth.