Two days after the Los Angeles Department of Public Health announced that the UK variant of Covid-19, known as B.1.1.7, had been identified in the region, the California Department of Public Health revealed that another a known strain was also circulating in the county.
Known as the L452R, the newly announced arrival was first identified in Denmark in March. It appeared in California as early as May.
Dr Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF who, together with state authorities, genetically sequenced test samples to identify new variants, said the first indications are that the L452R may be less sensitive to currently approved vaccines, but more investigation is needed.
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“This variant carries three mutations, including L452R, in the spike protein, which the virus uses to bind and enter cells, and is the target of the two vaccines currently available in the United States,” said Dr. Chiu. A spike protein mutation could then interfere with the efficacy of the vaccine.
According to the California Department of Public Health in Santa Clara County has sequenced large numbers of positive samples taken from community testing sites and outbreaks in the county. L452R has been present in community specimens and in several large outbreaks, including outbreaks where very large numbers of people exposed have contracted the virus.
“This variant has been identified in several major epidemics in our county,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer. She called the correlation a “red flag and needs to be investigated further.”
The new variant has also been detected in Los Angeles, Mono, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Humboldt and Lake counties. Since genomic sequencing is rare, the prevalence of L452 is currently unknown statewide, nationally or globally.
Dr Chiu said L452R has gone from around 3.8% of the samples it tested from late November 2020 to early December to over 25.2% from late December to early January 2021.
And there could be another problem with the effectiveness of vaccines.
Dr. Erica Pan, California State Epidemiologist said sunday that a “higher than usual” number of people had apparent allergic reactions to a batch of Moderna vaccine at a clinic in the San Diego area.
“Out of extreme caution,” Pan recommended that clinics stop using the doses of this specific lot until it is investigated.
California has received approximately 330,000 doses of the consignment in question. This equates to about 10% of all vaccines distributed to date in the state.
Monday, state figures were mostly down which is good. There have been just over 30,000 new cases, 201 new deaths, 20,968 patients infected with the virus and 1,113 intensive care beds available. The latter figure is the lowest number of intensive care beds available during the pandemic, which is worrying.
There’s also the potentially more contagious UK variant, B.1.1.7., On the horizon. Los Angeles public health officials confirmed the first case of the strain in the region over the weekend.
While Saturday may mark the strain’s first identified appearance in Los Angeles County, health officials have said in recent weeks that it is most likely already circulating in LAB1.1.7 had already passed through San Diego and County counties. San Bernardino. Before that, the strain had been found in Colorado, where it had reached the United States.
The CDC has warned that the presence of B.1.1.7 could mark a new phase of “exponential growth” in the total number of Covid-19 cases.
“Current expert projections predict that if left unchecked, this variant could dominate locally by March,” Los Angeles director of public health Barbara Ferrer said on Friday.
Now we can add to that the threat of a potentially vaccine resistant strain, L452R, too.
As a result, LA County officials have discussed the possibility of further restrictions for the county tired of the shutdown.