The new strain of the coronavirus that has emerged in New York City is not contributing to the rise in COVID-19 cases across the five boroughs, but remains a variant “of interest,” Big Apple health officials said Thursday.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said during a City Hall press briefing that there’s no evidence “at this point” that the new variant, known as B.1.526, “is what is contributing to the trajectory of cases, which we should emphasize continue to decrease.”
“We also don’t have any evidence at this point that the variant is concentrated in certain parts of the city,” Chokshi added.
Researchers revealed that the new strain – which shares some characteristics with the South Africa variant – has been spreading in New York City.
As of mid-February, the new variant was present in about 12 percent of coronavirus samples collected in the Big Apple and surrounding areas, according to researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Additional reporting by Nolan Hicks