Dangerously Mutated COVID Variant Detected in 47 U.S. States

A new COVID variant that infected vaccinated residents and staff at a Kentucky nursing home has been detected in 47 U.S. states, according to data.

The R.1 variant spread through 45 residents and staff at the nursing home after an unvaccinated staff member triggered the infections in March, the Kentucky Department of Public Health revealed.

Due to its mutation, the variant, first detected in Japan, was able to bypass the antibody protection present in the fully vaccinated.

According to Outbreak.info, a website that collects data on COVID variants, as of September 21, R.1 has now infected more than 10,567 people around the world and has been detected in 47 states.

Maryland was found to have the highest number of cases, with 399 cases being detected since it was first found in the country.

In total, 2,259 Americans have been found with the R.1 strain which was first detected in the country on March 15, 2020. The latest case to be detected in the U.S. was on August 6 and was found in 0.5 percent of cases.

Outbreak.info also reported the strain has been found in at least 31 countries worldwide, including China, India and many nations in western Europe.

Despite the low number of infections, former Harvard Medical School professor William A. Haseltine said the new mutations found in the R.1 variant could help it spread more easily.

Writing in Forbes, Haseltine said the five variations found in R.1 can lead to "increased resistance to antibodies."

This means it could make the variant better at evading those antibodies that are created by having the vaccine and in those who have already been infected.

R.1 contains the W152L mutation in a region of the spike protein that is the target of antibodies that could reduce their effectiveness, according to the CDC.

The W152L mutation was also present in a minor variant of the Delta strain that was detected in India.

R.1 also shares a mutation with other variants, namely C241U, NSP12: P323L and D614G. D614G causes increased infections while it is not known what effect the other two have. All three mutations have been detected in strains that superseded the original Wuhan strain.

Data from John Hopkins University found that, as of Tuesday, the COVID-19 pandemic had killed more than 4.55 million people and had infected some 229 million.

The World Health Organization continues to monitor COVID-19 strains and classifies them based on their rate of infections.

Eta, Iota and Kappa were recently downgraded from being "variants of concern" to "variants under monitoring" after their circulation was hindered by other variants.

Vaccinations in Alaska
The variant has been detected in 47 states. Registered Nurse Robert Orallo administers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage on March 19, 2021. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images