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BREAKING: New California COVID-19 variant labeled as “variant of concern”

In California, a new variant of COVID-19 has brought with it warnings from the CDC, classifying the new strands as “Variants of Concern” (VOC).  

California coronavirus mutant escalates to CDC’s ‘variant of concern. The COVID-19 variants, B.1.427 and B.1.429, might possibly be about 20% more transmissible, with some treatments for the virus being less effective in combating the strains, according to the CDC. The first reported case occurred in July 2020 in Los Angeles, however analysis suggests it first emerged in May 2020.

The two strains first detected in California have been officially defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday as “variants of concern.” These variants add to the three others, B.1.1.7, first identified in the U.K., b.1.351, discovered in South Africa, and P.1 in Brazil, which are already classified as variants of concern. The CDC noted the variants inflict “significant impact on neutralization by some, but not all, Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) therapeutics” and has “moderate reduction in neutralization using convalescent and post-vaccination sera.” 

The CDC’s website cites preliminary research noting the variant was detected in 459 of 2,172 sampled genomes, or about 21%. This specific variant includes a key unique mutation, L452R, that was not seen in other VOCs. “We managed to obtain some evidence that this is a more infectious variant,” said Dr. Charles Chiu of UCSF. He noted a two-fold increase in the virus concentrations of nasal swabs and said “that doesn’t necessarily prove, but does suggest, that it may be more infectious.”

As of Tuesday, a total of 4,855 cases of coronavirus variants had been reported in the US according to the CDC’s latest data, with the vast majority, about 4,686, being caused by B.1.1.7. There were 142 cases of B.1.351 and 27 cases of the P.1 strain. Viral mutations and variants of concern in the US are consistently monitored through sequence-based surveillance, lab studies, and epidemiological investigations, per the CDC. Public health officials say protective measures, such as masks, physical distancing, hand-washing, and prompt vaccinations, can aid in the prevention of COVID-19 and new strains. 

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ARTICLE BY: EMILY HINES

FBA U.S. NEWS EDITOR: CARSON WOLF

PHOTO CREDITS: LOS ANGELES TIMES

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