Newly identified strain of COVID in US may be most contagious yet

Newly identified strain of COVID in US may be most contagious yet

Scientists from Southern Illinois University have identified a third US variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 — and it may be the most contagious strain yet, researchers said Thursday.

The homegrown mutation, dubbed 20C-US, is believed to be responsible for up to 50 percent of all US cases — hitting the Midwest the hardest, researchers said in a press release.

“It’s here. We found it,” said Keith Gagnon, an associate professor of biochemistry at SIU Carbondale. “It’s definitely home-grown and widespread.”

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Gagnon said he and his team traced the strain back to Texas, where it first appeared in May.

The mutation has a keen ability to process viral proteins along with strong “RNA genome integrity,” the researchers said — making it frighteningly efficient at spreading.

“It might be more easily transmissible than other variants, and its impact on vaccines is uncertain,” the press release states.

The findings come a day after scientists at Ohio State University said they discovered a

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