Doctors explain why mutated strain of coronavirus that is dominant in Houston is more contagious but not more deadly

HOUSTON – As research leads to a better understanding of COVID-19′s effect on the human body, doctors in the Texas Medical Center Monday offered insight into a strain of the coronavirus that seems to be more contagious – a strain considered the main one wreaking havoc in Houston.

New research published last week, concluded a mutated strain is more infectious, but local doctors said the strain itself isn’t new to Houston and should not heighten concerns.

“It’s actually been here for three to four months already,” said Dr. Joseph Petrosino, chairman, Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine. “Probably appeared in February or March as the virus was making its way out of China and into Europe,” Petrosino continued.

Still, the very mention of words such as “mutation,” and talk about a coronavirus strain that seems stronger, is more than enough to fray already tattered nerves.

To that end, local researchers say there’s no need to heighten one’s sense of concern.

“This is really one of the things about the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 that people around the world have studied for months trying to figure out what the implications are for – why it’s so dominant,” said Dr. S. Wesley Long, medical director, diagnostic microbiology, Houston Methodist Hospital.

Doctors: mutated strain in Houston since March

Doctors in the Texas Medical Center have gathered data from local COVID-19 patients since the area’s first positive cases came to light in March. Even then, researchers noticed various strains of the virus – something they insist is normal.


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