Highly Contagious New COVID-19 Mutation in Houston, Texas!

https://mbio.asm.org/content/11/6/e02707-20

D614G-the name of This Mutated Covid-19 Virus! Super work!

This is amazing work done for our benefit. Here’s the PDF-

Concluding statement.

Our work represents analysis of the largest sample to date
of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences from patients in one metropolitan region in the
United States. The investigation was facilitated by the fact that we had rapidly assessed
a SARS-CoV-2 molecular diagnostic test in January 2020, more than a month before the
first COVID-19 patient was diagnosed in Houston. In addition, our large health care
system has seven hospitals and many facilities (e.g., outpatient care centers, emergency
departments) located in geographically diverse areas of the city. We also provide
reference laboratory services for other health care entities in the Houston area. To-
gether, our facilities serve patients of diverse ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses.
Thus, the data presented here likely reflect a broad overview of virus diversity causing
COVID-19 infections throughout metropolitan Houston. We previously exploited these
features to study influenza virus and Klebsiella pneumoniae dissemination in metropol-
itan Houston (84, 85). We acknowledge that not every “twig” of the SARS-CoV-2
evolutionary tree in Houston is represented in these data. The samples studied are not
comprehensive with respect to the entire metropolitan region. For example, it is
possible that our strain samples are not fully representative of individuals who are
indigent, homeless, or of very low socioeconomic status. In addition, although the
strain sample size was relatively large compared to other studies, the samples repre-
sented only about 10% of all COVID-19 cases in metropolitan Houston documented in
the study period. In addition, some patient samples contained relatively small amounts
of virus nucleic acid and did not yield adequate sequence data for high-quality genome
analysis. Thus, our data likely underestimate the extent of genome diversity present
among SARS-CoV-2 strains causing COVID-19 and will not identify all amino acid
replacements in the virus in this geographic region. It will be important to sequence
and analyze the genomes of additional SARS-CoV-2 strains causing COVID-19 cases in
the ongoing second massive disease wave in metropolitan Houston, and such studies
are under way. Data of this type will be especially important to have if a third wave and
subsequent waves were to occur in metropolitan Houston, as it could provide insight
into molecular and epidemiologic events contributing to them.
The genomes reported here are an important data resource that will underpin our
ongoing study of SARS-CoV-2 molecular evolution and dissemination and medical
features of COVID-19 in Houston. As of 19 August 2020, there were 135,866 reported
cases of COVID-19 in metropolitan Houston, and the number of cases is increasing daily.
Although the full array of factors contributing to the massive second wave in Houston
is not known, it is possible that the potential for increased transmissibility of SARS-
CoV-2 with the Gly614 amino acid replacement may have played a role, as well as
changes in behavior associated with the Memorial Day and July 4th holidays and
relaxation of some of the social constraints imposed during the first wave. The
availability of extensive virus genome data dating from the earliest reported cases of

COVID-19 in metropolitan Houston, coupled with the database we have now con-
structed, may provide critical insights into the origin of the new infection spikes and
waves that are occurring as public health constraints are further relaxed, schools and
colleges reopen, holidays occur, commercial air travel increases, and individuals change
their behavior because of COVID-19 “fatigue.” The genome data will also be useful in
assessing ongoing molecular evolution in spike and other proteins as baseline herd
immunity is generated, either by natural exposure to SARS-CoV-2 or by vaccination. The
signal of potential selection contributing to some spike protein diversity and identifi-
cation of naturally occurring mutant RBD variants with altered serologic recognition
warrant close attention and expanded study.