covid-19 variants

‘Double Mutant' Variant Detected in California for the First Time in the U.S.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Public health experts are tracking a new COVID-19 variant detected in the Bay Area that has been dubbed the Double Mutant. It’s believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.

Stanford Health experts confirmed the new double mutation of the coronavirus in at least one case in Santa Clara County, and the scientists suspect there are more.

“This particular variant, or mutant, has one mutation which has already caused a lot of cases in California, and then this second mutation in the spike protein,” said Eyal Oren, Ph.D., interim director of the School of Public Health at San Diego State University. “Because these two mutations are in the spike protein, which is what the virus uses to latch onto our cells and copy itself, there is a worry that maybe this particular mutation we're seeing can more easily escape our system or spread more easily from person to person.”

The variant is believed to have originated in India, where it's believed to have contributed to a recent surge in cases.

“We’ve seen in India that it’s caused a good number of new cases in a particular part of the country,” Oren said.

NBC 7 asked Oren if the variant is expected to reach San Diego soon, to which he responded, “Well, I’ll tell you this: The fact that the double variant made its way all the way to the us from India shows just through human movement and travel that it’s very easy for these viruses to jump ship.”

Oren said getting people vaccinated is key.

“What we’re seeing is the vaccination is really effective, so getting more people vaccinated will help stop that transmission,” Oren said.

Meanwhile, Oren is encouraging people to continue practicing safety precautions until herd immunity is reached.

There is no evidence proving that the variant is more dangerous or deadly. Medical experts believe COVID-19 vaccines will protect against the new strain.

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