COLUMBUS (WKBN) – Scientists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine have discovered the new COVID-19 variant in the state.

The variant found in Ohio carries a mutation identical to the strain found in the U.K., but OSU researchers say it likely came from a virus strain already in the U.S.

The variant was found in a patient from Ohio, but researchers do not yet know how widespread it is through the state’s population.

Another U.S. strain has also evolved by acquiring three other gene mutations not seen before in COVID-19, researchers say. This strain has been the dominant one in Columbus for three weeks now.

“This new Columbus strain has the same genetic backbone as earlier cases we’ve studied, but these three mutations represent a significant evolution,” said study leader Dr. Dan Jones. “We know this shift didn’t come from the U.K. or South African branches of the virus.”

Mutations are likely to make the virus more infectious, causing it to spread quicker from person to person.

“The big question is whether these mutations will render vaccines and current therapeutic approaches less effective,” said Peter Mohler, a co-author of the study. “At this point, we have no data to believe that these mutations will have any impact on the effectiveness of vaccines now in use.”

OSU’s Wexner Medical Center has been monitoring the virus’ evolution since March.