News from the Center for Emerging Viral Threats

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One year Anniversary - March 25, 2021

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Announcement Press Conference - March 25, 2020

The EVT Viral Genomics and Sequencing Lab at LSU Health Shreveport is first in the state to sequence and report that a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has been detected in Louisiana. The new variant, B.1.630, was sequenced last week from two samples collected in Baton Rouge.

Read More about LSU Health Shreveport first to detect New COVID-19 Variant in Louisiana

Wall Street Journal - Some virologists believe the Delta variant evolved to maximize transmissibility and that its ability to spread rapidly will eventually reach a ceiling as more of the global population gets vaccinated. “It looks like this virus is already driving a Lamborghini right now in terms of transmissibility, so I’m not sure it can get much faster,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport who is studying coronavirus genetics. Read the full article.

Read More about Delta’s highly infectious nature positions it to outcompete new variants, scientists say (opens in new window/tab) -  Dr. Jeremy Kamil, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at LSUHS leads COVID-19 sequencing at the institution shared that he believes a doomsday variant is extremely unlikely and that people should be talking instead about the importance of getting vaccinated because variants can develop when large numbers of people do not.

Read More about COVID ‘Doomsday Variant’ Report Criticized for ‘Fear Mongering’ (opens in new window/tab)

Boston Globe - Dr. Jeremy Kamil, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at LSUHS, oversees a team of scientists reading the genomes of positive virus samples each week. A run of samples this week found the number of cases involving the delta variant had exploded. Dr. John Vanchiere, a professor of infectious disease at LSUHS said a growing public awareness of local delta cases was one reason his team was now vaccinating twice as many people as a month ago — as many as 100 a day.

Read More about In Louisiana, vaccine misinformation and Delta variant grow (opens in new window/tab)

Bloomberg News - Given the patchy start to COVID surveillance last year, some experts have expressed concern over whether the CDC can create a system that will help bring the pandemic to a true end. Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSUHS, points out that the agency takes weeks to provide data from sequencing including diseases such as influenza, too.

Read More about More Variants Are Coming, and the U.S. Isn’t Ready to Track Them (opens in new window/tab)
Delta plus India: Scientists say too early to tell risk of Covid-19 variant

BBC World - Even with 166 examples of Delta plus shared on GISAID, "we don't have much reason to believe this is any more dangerous than the original Delta," according to Dr Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport. "Delta plus might have a slight advantage at infecting and spreading between people previously infected earlier or who have weak or incomplete vaccine immunity." - “This virus can get past the defenses that our bodies made against earlier pandemic viruses,” said Jeremy Kamil, a virologist who has been sequencing variants at LSU Health Shreveport. Being infected last summer will not necessarily protect someone from being infected by the delta variant.

Read More about First case of delta-plus, 'double-whammy' variant of COVID, detected in Louisiana (opens in new window/tab)

Nature - The rapid rise of the highly transmissible strain in the United Kingdom has put countries in Europe, North America and Africa on watch. Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at LSU Health Shreveport, expects Delta to eventually become dominant in the United States, “but to be somewhat blunted by vaccination”.

Read More about Delta coronavirus variant: scientists brace for impact (opens in new window/tab)

Louisiana Radio Network - The objective of the grant is to strengthen global capabilities to detect and respond to pandemic threats in the future. Director for Emerging Viral Threats at LSUHS Dr. Andrew Yurochko said the award is indicative of LSU Health Shreveport’s strides in detecting variants and assisting with vaccine rollout.

Read More about LSU Health Shreveport receives grant for global response to pandemic threats (opens in new window/tab)

Red River Radio - Work by Drs. Jeremy Kamil and Rona Scott along with COBRE principal investigators Drs. Andrew Yurochko and Chris Kevil has produced and shared 2,839 full coverage SARS-CoV-2 genomes, which amounts to over 60% of the SARSCoV-2 genome surveillance from Louisiana, and 1.2 % of the total US data submitted to GISAID which is the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data.

Read More about LSU Health Shreveport Receives $730,000 in NIH Funding for Sequencing of COVID-19 (opens in new window/tab)

The Rockefeller Foundation - LSU Health Shreveport (LSUHS) is receiving funding ($340,000) from the Rockefeller Foundation. This follows the announcement yesterday of LSUHS being awarded $730,000 to further its work in genomic sequencing of COVID-19 through a NIH supplemental grant.  LSUHS joins Harvard and the Broad Institute at MIT among others in the US Regional Accelerators for Genomic Surveillance.

Read More about Rockefeller Foundation announces grant funding to LSUHS to build coalition to detect and respond to pandemic threats

China Daily - "Despite a few mutations here and there, the virus is still SARS-CoV-2 and the disease is still COVID-19. Risk will be highest to the elderly, and to those in high-risk groups, such as people who are diabetic, overweight, (have) high blood pressure, or who have inborn errors of immunity," warned Dr. Jeremy Kamil, LSUHS associate professor.

Read More about India races to flag virus mutations (opens in new window/tab)