Scientists at Texas A&M University’s Global Health Research Complex say they’ve detected a new Covid-19 variant that shows signs of a more contagious strain that causes more severe illness and appears to be resistant to antibodies, CNBC reported.
According to the report, the new variant, BV-1, named after its Brazos Valley origin, was found during Texas A&M’s routine coronavirus screening via aliva sample in a young student who had mild cold-like symptoms. The student tested positive for Covid on March 5 and tested positive again on March 25, showing that the new strain may cause a longer infection in younger people. The student’s symptoms resolved by April 2 and a third test on April 9 came back negative.
“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 Texas A&M Chief Virologist Ben euman.
“This variant combines genetic markers separately associated with rapid spread, severe disease and high resistance to neutralising antibodies.”
Meanwhile, the European Union’s executive arm said it is preparing to start legal action within days against AstraZeneca Plc after the company’s failure to hit vaccine delivery targets undermined the bloc’s inoculation campaign.
The move has been discussed for weeks by the bloc’s ambassadors, according to two officials familiar with the discussions. It’s aimed at ensuring the company delivers on commitments for this quarter, and the European Commission has asked governments to join the process, but some aren’t fully on board, according to one of the officials.
Astra delivered just 30 million doses in the first quarter, compared with an original target of 120 million. The shortfall sparked a huge row with the EU, with the bloc accusing the company of breaching their contract.
It introduced tighter restrictions on vaccine exports as the crisis escalated, and became embroiled in a battle with the UK after demanding access to that country’s Astra supplies.
The vaccine contract, which was published late January, suggested that UK manufacturing sites could be used to accelerate EU supplies if needed.
However, the document also said that the company only needs to make “best reasonable efforts” to resolve problems.