Tests found rare COVID-19 mutation in New Jersey

‘Outbreak was very well contained, very early on.’ Researchers say state needs stronger COVID-19 genome sequencing program

Variants of the coronavirus swirl through populations as the virus naturally mutates, says Dr. David Perlin of Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation — and some strains can be more infectious or resistant. Perlin’s CDI lab identified a specific mutation called E484K in an outbreak that involved more than 70 cases at a New Jersey residential acute care facility late last year.

“It’s not a South African variant, it’s not a Brazilian variant. It seems to have evolved somehow or another in New Jersey,” Perlin said. “Our outbreak was very well contained, very early on. We were able to identify it, put out the so-called fire — but that’s what we need to do.”

The finding, said Perlin, came “from our ability to do surveillance and sequence within our network and it really does highlight the need to do this on an ongoing basis.”

But capacity in the state to test for that or any other variant is limited, raising questions about just how prevalent they are and how quickly they could be spreading. Senior Correspondent Brenda Flanagan reports.

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