There’s a new COVID-19 variant circulating through Los Angeles County that is different than the new UK mutation, according to officials from the California Department of Public Health.
What’s going on?
Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UC San Francisco, has been conducting genetic sequencing to identify new variants of COVID-19.
The California Department of Public Health in Santa Clara County said it sequenced a large number of positive COVID-19 cases and found the L452R variant was present in the community spread and in large outbreaks.
- “This variant was identified in several large outbreaks in our county,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.
- She said this correlation is “a red flag and must be investigated further.”
- “This virus continues to mutate and adapt, and we cannot let down our guard. This news underscores the need for everyone to follow all prevention measures and get vaccinated as soon as they are offered the vaccine.”
What about the vaccine?
- “This variant carries three mutations, including L452R, in the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to and enter cells, and is the target of the two vaccines that are currently available in the United States,” said Dr. Chiu. ”Now that we know this variant is on the rise in our local communities, we are prioritizing it for study. Researchers at UCSF and elsewhere will now be able to perform the critical laboratory experiments to determine whether or not this virus is more infectious or affects vaccine performance.”
Experts have said the COVID-19 vaccine can defeat most variants since they don’t appear to change the spike protein. However, this new variant — if really changes the spike protein — could create a potential problem with the vaccines.