Updated: January 13, 2021 06:17 PM
Created: January 13, 2021 05:09 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Researchers at UNM’s Health Sciences Center are preparing to study different COVID-19 variants, including a new variant that originated in the United Kingdom. On Wednesday, officials with the New Mexico Department of Health announced its first case of the U.K. variant in New Mexico.
“My lab works on immune responses to viral infections and with SARS-CoV-2, we’ve been using our facilities to look at testing drugs against the virus, long-term immunity, people who have acquired the virus and recovered,” said Dr. Steven Bradfute, a research assistant professor at UNM.
For months, researchers at UNM helped test the early stages of the COVID-19 vaccine. Scientists said the new variant is more contagious and more common in some places.
Health officials around the world have talked about new strains appearing in the U.K., South Africa, and even Columbus, Ohio.
“We are in line to get these new variants that have been coming out. There are multiple ones, and we are in line to get them once they become more widely available and conduct similar test on these variants,” Bradfute said.
Even though experts said the current vaccines should protect people against the new strains, researchers want to know how drugs and treatments affect the new versions. UNM’s research will also include patients from New Mexico.
“We want to try and understand with the demographics we have here in New Mexico and different groups what the consequences are of infection, what the long-term immune responses are like, and if they vary from other places around the country. So we have a New Mexico-centric focus,” Bradfute said.
Officials said any meaningful endings will be published and shared so the public can know how the new strains will affect them.
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