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Story by Keaton Thomas and KATU Staff - Story Source
Published on Wednesday March 10, 2021 - 2:01 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. — The new variant of COVID-19 that evolved in Oregon was found in a health care setting in Marion County.

Researchers are still trying to figure out how it will affect people.

The Oregon variant is similar to versions of the virus in the United Kingdom, and it's been listed as a variant of concern.

Brian O'Roak, associate professor of molecular and medical genetics at Oregon Health & Science University, and his team found the homegrown strain. They are still trying to figure out how far it has spread in the community.

"It has been shown this combination of variants are more resistant to being neutralized by human antibodies, but we still have a lot to learn about what that might mean outside of the lab in a real-world situation," he said Monday.

He did say despite new variants, vaccines are still very effective against severe disease and death.

O'Roak says right now they are still trying to assess how far the variant has spread and whether it's contained within this outbreak.

"We've only detected the single instance of this mutation within the outbreak. We don't think it was the only case within the outbreak to contain that mutation. But thus far we haven't seen it out in the wider community yet," he said.