A new COVID-19 variant spreading through New York City has mutations that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines, according to two new studies.
The B.1.526 variant, which first appeared in samples collected in New York City in November, now makes up about 27 percent of viral sequences deposited into a database shared by scientists called GISAID, according to The New York Times.
One of the studies was led by a group at California Institute of Technology and published online on Tuesday. The other cited by the Times was conducted by researchers at Columbia University but has not yet been made public.
Neither study has been peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal, the outlet noted, but experts not involved with either study called the results worrying.
New York City, which was the epicenter of the pandemic last spring, has recorded 707,695 COVID-19 cases, and 29,025 people have died from the virus.
New cases and daily deaths in the city are decreasing, with 24,558 people testing positive and 384 fatalities in the past seven days. The city's test positivity rate is 8.06%.