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OSU research finds evidence of multiple COVID-19 variants throughout Oregon

Photo courtesy Oregon State University

Oregon State University's program that monitors coronavirus in city wastewater has found multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants about the state.

Posted: Jan 29, 2021 3:08 PM
Updated: Jan 29, 2021 3:13 PM

CORVALLIS, Ore. — An ongoing Oregon State University program that monitors evidence of coronavirus in city wastewater throughout the state has detected "multiple variants" of the virus, including signs that the U.K. strain has made it to Bend.

OSU put out a statement regarding the discoveries on Friday, stemming from genetic sequencing of samples from the college's Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing.

The Bend sample in particular was collected on December 22. Sequencing found evidence of the U.K. strain on January 21.

Oregon health officials have so far identified three positive cases of the U.K. strain, but none in the eastern or central areas of the state around Bend. The three known cases were found in Multnomah, Yamhill, and Washington counties.

“With the new variants arriving, being able to understand which variants are circulating among communities is becoming increasingly more important,” said Brett Tyler, director of the genome center.

Researchers have acknowledged that many variant strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have already been detected and will continue to emerge over time. But a few strains — particularly the ones detected in the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil — are believed to be more contagious than common variants, with mutations that allow the virus to more easily infect a person.

As of Monday, OSU said that its lab had completed genetic sequencing on more than 1,100 samples.

Five people on OSU's Corvallis campus were positive for the “L452R” mutant strain of COVID-19, and it was also present in campus wastewater. This variant was first detected in March, but does not have the same advantageous mutation as the international strains.

“This strain is not of the highest concern, like those other three (U.K, South African and Brazilian variants), but it has spread extensively in Southern California and was associated with some recent large outbreaks in Santa Clara County,” Tyler said.

Two sub-types of the L452R strain were found in wastewater from Albany, Forest Grove, Klamath Falls, Lincoln City and Silverton.

“It is not surprising that we have detected this strain,” Tyler said. “Since L452R has been around a long time, and is currently widespread in California, it stands to reason that it would likely find its way up here. But it does indicate the importance of the sequencing to keep track of it.”

Part of OSU's effort is to monitor these new strains as they appear in order to judge how they could impact the effectiveness of the current COVID-19 vaccines. According to the university, a partnership with the Oregon Health Authority seeks to expand the program to every county in the state.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 206851

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40371614
Washington26781248
Marion23425323
Clackamas18932235
Lane13908164
Jackson11535146
Deschutes1001882
Umatilla859387
Linn561181
Yamhill478279
Klamath477678
Polk399356
Douglas388483
Malheur361463
Josephine360672
Benton326522
Jefferson237039
Coos216637
Columbia192129
Union149924
Wasco144430
Lincoln143021
Crook129223
Hood River121633
Morrow115416
Clatsop10589
Baker101115
Curry71011
Tillamook6604
Grant5507
Lake4678
Harney4339
Wallowa1945
Gilliam801
Sherman671
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3809710

Reported Deaths: 63356
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124774424456
Riverside3016684627
San Bernardino2992894845
San Diego2818103771
Orange2730575113
Santa Clara1201632188
Kern1107991404
Sacramento1078211736
Fresno1029471724
Alameda896591277
Ventura816611031
San Joaquin747271440
Contra Costa70730813
Stanislaus634971070
Tulare49776849
Monterey43836432
San Mateo42681581
San Francisco37269556
Santa Barbara34613455
Solano33762266
Merced32313478
Sonoma30884317
Imperial28855741
Placer23589299
Kings23195247
San Luis Obispo21421261
Madera16638245
Santa Cruz16246208
Marin14206230
Yolo14160212
Butte12668194
Shasta12630233
El Dorado10396116
Napa1002680
Sutter9663113
Yuba648951
San Benito610963
Lassen578424
Tehama573463
Nevada491975
Humboldt449948
Mendocino434050
Tuolumne421271
Amador374047
Lake356345
Glenn243427
Siskiyou239637
Colusa228418
Calaveras220756
Del Norte14588
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7366
Modoc5585
Mariposa4657
Trinity4225
Sierra1160
Alpine890
Unassigned280
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