Covid-19: What is the variant of the virus in California?
In the United States, cases are skyrocketing and Los Angeles faces a new, even more contagious variant of the virus. There, a person dies from Covid-19 every seven minutes.
The researchers were already familiar with the British and South African variants of Covid-19, a new mutation of the virus that is now entering the global epidemic. This time around, it is a new strain that is gaining traction in the United States. The California Department of Public Health reported the presence of a variant of the virus that has become more common in the state since December.
Known as L452R, it was first detected in Denmark in March and appeared in California in May. In December, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, sequenced coronavirus genomes collected from across the state and found that the variant was present in 3.8% of the 185 cases reported between November 22 and December 13. A few months later, in January, it had risen to 25.2% of the 147 cases analyzed between December 14 and January 3.
The Los Angeles area is one of the areas most affected by the virus in the United States, there a person dies from Covid-19 every seven minutes.
A "highly transmissible" variant
Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the sequencing, cautioned that he and his colleagues were working on a small sample of patients and have yet to prove that this variant is more contagious than others. "But there are worrying signs that this variant may be highly transmissible," said the researcher. Dr. Chiu and his colleagues are now investigating this variant more carefully across the state and trying to understand the impact of its mutations.
They want to see if the variant can escape monoclonal antibodies and perhaps even make vaccines less effective. To do this, the research team will now analyze more samples.
As reported by the New York Times, Los Angeles County has seen an increase in cases since between November 30 and January 2, there were 400,000 additional infections. An outbreak that could be explained by the increasing presence of the new variant.