Rapid Emergence and Epidemiologic Characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.526 Variant — New York City, New York, January 1–April 5, 2021
May 5, 2021
Corinne N. Thompson, PhD1; Scott Hughes, PhD1; Stephanie Ngai, MPH1; Jennifer Baumgartner, MSPH1; Jade C. Wang, MS1; Emily McGibbon, MPH1; Katelynn Devinney, MPH1; Elizabeth Luoma, MPH1; Daniel Bertolino, MPH1; Christina Hwang, MPH1; Kelsey Kepler, MPH1; Cybill Del Castillo2; Melissa Hopkins2; Henry Lee, PhD2,3; Andrea K. DeVito, MPH1; Jennifer L. Rakeman, PhD1; Anne D. Fine, MD1
Thompson et al. performed an analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.526 variant which was first identified in New York City in November 2020 and was considered a variant of interest. This is because the variant has a mutation (E484K) in the receptor binding domain, which weakens antibody neutralization in vitro. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene analyzed laboratory and epidemiologic data to understand cases of B.1.526 infection and the potential for reinfection/breakthrough infections. They used NYC resident samples collected between January 1 and April 5, 2021, and all samples underwent nucleic acid amplification tests with some undergoing whole genome sequencing as well (if their cycle threshold was under 32). The analysis suggested that the B.1.526 variant does not lead to more severe disease or increased risk for reinfection. However, the B.1.526 variant may be more transmissible, and people with the variant were much more likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods (Bronx) and to identify as Black/African-American. Cases of another variant, B.1.1.7, were also compared, as it was found to be 19% of the samples while the B.1.256 variant represented 38% of the sample. People with the B.1.1.7 variant were more likely to be hospitalized than those without, but there were no other significant differences with the B.1.256 variant and non-variant cases. The authors concluded that whole genome sequencing and population-based surveillance data are highly important in characterizing SARS-CoV-2 variants.
Thompson CN, Hughes S, Ngai S, Baumgartner J, Wang JC, Mcgibbon E. Rapid Emergence and Epidemiologic Characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.526 Variant — New York City, New York, January 1–April 5, 2021. 2021; 70: 1–6.