Another new coronavirus virus found throughout California


Since the total number of coronovirus infections in California is 3 million, health officials said on Sunday that a new strain – separate from the highly infectious version first identified in the United Kingdom – is popping up more frequently across the state.

Researchers have identified the strain in a dozen counties and linked it to several major outbreaks in Santa Clara County. California’s Department of Public Health said that it is not yet clear whether the variant is highly contagious or just that lab work is becoming more often recognized as being more sophisticated.

Santa Clara County laboratories studied the virus’s genome sequence changes and found strains in samples from community testing sites and where “a large number of people contracted the virus.”

Santa Clara County Health Officer and Director of the Department of Public Health, Drs. Sarah Cody said in a prepared statement, “This virus constantly changes and adapts and we cannot disappoint our defender.”

The new version has also been reported in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego, Humboldt, Lake, Mono, Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties.

Scientists say they do not know how prevalent the strain is, because viral genomic sequencing is not performed everywhere in the state or across the country.

The variant makes three mutations in the spike protein, which the virus uses to connect and enter cells, a virologist at UC San Francisco, Dr. Charles Chiu said.

Two COVID-19 vaccines in the US, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, train the body’s immune system to target spike proteins. This means that, in theory, virus mutations can alter spike proteins to an extent that vaccines become less effective.

Chiu said researchers are prioritizing the study of variants and working to determine if the virus is “more contagious or affects vaccine performance.”

This variant is not the same as the highly contagious strain identified in the United Kingdom last month. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Friday that a UK version known as B117 could become the major coronavirus virus in the US in March because it spreads so quickly.

Los Angeles County on Saturday confirmed a man in the first case of the B117 version, who had spent time in the county, but is now in isolation in Oregon.

Meanwhile, late Sunday evening, the state epidemiologist of the Department of Public Health, Drs. Erica S. PAN sent a warning to California medical providers that they would temporarily stop taking modern COVID-19 vaccine doses below 10% at once. Pan said people at the community immunization clinic were allergic to the pill.

Officials said more than 330,000 doses were distributed to 287 providers in California from January 5 to January 12. “Modern and state and federal health officials have completed their investigations,” Panned said.

On Sunday, the total number of California residents receiving a positive coronavirus test reached 2.96 million.

In LA County, authorities reported 108 deaths and 11,366 new positive cases on Sunday, causing a total of 13,848 deaths and more than 1 million cases. Officials cautioned that the data reported on Sunday could be artificially reduced due to delays in reporting the end of the holiday week.

So many people have died in Los Angeles County that authorities have temporarily suspended air quality regulations that limit the number of crematoriums. Health officials and the LA County Coroner requested the change because the current death toll is “more than double the pre-pandemic, causing hospitals, funeral homes and cremation to exceed capacity, without the ability to process backlogs.” The South Coast Air Quality Management District said on Sunday.

Health officials said that in at least a glimpse of hope, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in LA County increased from 7,910 on Monday to 7,498 on Monday. About 23% of hospitalized patients are in intensive care.

The share of people taking coronovirus tests and receiving positive results has also fallen from 16.5% to 14% on Monday. Officials say the dip may be a sign that the infection is beginning to decline after the post-holiday boom.

Meanwhile, in Orange County, health officials reported 1,448 new cases and 47 deaths. The county totals are now 210,813 cases and 2,367 deaths.

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