NewsHealth Insider


Scientists at TGen in Arizona are working to outrace and out trace COVID-19 mutations

TGen COVID studies
Posted at 9:31 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 00:24:20-05

Scientists at TGen in Arizona are working to outrace and out trace COVID-19 mutations. They've already analyzed more than 6,500 samples and the findings are eye opening.

RELATED: Arizona could become world leader in COVID-19 mutation tracking

"We build essentially a family tree, what I call like an look at the virus, who's related to who, where the virus is coming from and where it's moving around," says TGen North Co-Director Dr. David Engelthaler.

The current dominant strain in Arizona traces back to the European version of the virus. The highly contagious UK strain has also been identified in testing of Arizona samples.

FULL COVERAGE: COVID-19 vaccine in Arizona

But Dr. Engelthaler says the California variant is becoming more important to track here. It represents nearly 15 percent of the positive cases analyzed by TGen in Arizona.

California researchers say it spreads more easily and has shown the ability to evade antibodies generated by COVID-19 vaccines and prior infections.

"None of the variants seen anywhere in the world right now can completely escape the vaccine.

The vaccine still has strong effectiveness against all of these variants, it's just some of it seems to be whittling away some of the effectiveness with some of these mutations," says Dr. Engelthaler.

The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at