Arizona’s three public universities team up to detect COVID-19 mutations

Feb 5, 2021, 4:55 AM

PHOENIX — Scientists from Arizona’s three public universities are joining forces to analyze test samples to detect dangerous COVID-19 mutations.

“The concern, of course, is you get one of these mutations that take hold and there’s no vaccine that can protect you,” Robert Robbins, president of the University of Arizona, said.

He noted that’s what happened with HIV. There’s no vaccine that prevents infection, only therapeutics.

Mutations of COVID-19 have been occurring with several variants already identified, including one first detected in the United Kingdom that’s believed to be more contagious and deadly.

More than 600 cases of the UK variant have been identified in the United States, including a handful in Arizona. Labs run by Arizona State University helped detect the UK variant in the state last week.

ASU President Michael Crow said COVID-19 mutations are spreading quickly as scientists race to analyze samples for genetic changes.

“If we allow this virus to continue to evolve into the human species at scale, we will get mutations for which there is no defense,” Crow said. “I want that to sink in — mutations for which there is no defense because it has worked its way around everything we can do.”

The vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna authorized for use in the U.S. offer immunity to the UK variant, though they are less effective against another variant discovered in South Africa.

Robbins said a COVID-19 variant from Brazil “has people really concerned” because the vaccines may be even less effective against it. He added for now one of the best tools there is to fight off these variants is to “get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible.”

“The longer we don’t vaccinate people, the virus has a bigger chance to mutate,” he said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Deshan Begay, 24, was struck by a vehicle while walking when he didn't have the right of way, polic...

Man fatally struck while crossing I-10 access road at red light in Phoenix

Deshan Begay, 24, was crossing the I-10 westbound access road on Wednesday evening when a vehicle fatally struck him, Phoenix police said.

4 hours ago

Protesters in Phoenix shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona state Capitol after ...

Associated Press

Abortion ruling supercharges Arizona to be an especially important swing state

A ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged Arizona's role, turning it into the most critical battleground.

5 hours ago

Preston Lord murder suspect Talyn Vigil posted bond and was released from jail on April 12, 2024. (...

Talyn Vigil, suspect in murder of Preston Lord, posts bonds and is released from jail

Talyn Vigil, one of seven suspects indicted in the murder of 16-year-old Preston Lord in Queen Creek, posted bond and was released from jail Friday, authorities said.

8 hours ago

Santokh "Sam" Singh went missing in Gilbert on April 12, 2024. (DPS Photo)...

Silver Alert issued for 79-year-old man who went missing in Gilbert

A Silver Alert was issued Friday for a 79-year-old man who went missing in Gilbert earlier in the day, authorities said.

9 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a Get Out The Vote rally ...

Associated Press

Trump pushes Arizona lawmakers to ‘remedy’ state abortion ruling that he says ‘went too far’

Donald Trump urged Arizona lawmakers on Friday to swiftly “remedy” the state court ruling allowing prosecutors to enforce an abortion ban.

9 hours ago

Runesha White, 22, is accused of stabbing a man in the back after he recorded a separate fight on A...

Woman arrested after fight leads to stabbing, shooting in Glendale

A woman was arrested and two people were hospitalized after a fight led to a stabbing and a shooting in Glendale on Wednesday night.

10 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Arizona’s three public universities team up to detect COVID-19 mutations