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 of last year. It appeared in California as early as May 2020.
According to the California Department of Public Health, Santa Clara County has sequenced a large number 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.
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“This variant has been identified in several major epidemics in our county,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County health manager. She called this correlation a “red flag and needs further investigation”.
Dr Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF who genetically sequenced test samples to identify new variants, said L452R went from around 3.8% of the samples he tested to end of November 2020 to beginning of December at more than 25.2%. from the end of December to the beginning of January 2021.
The L452R variant affects the peak protein of the virus, so there is a chance that currently developed vaccines will be less effective against it, Chiu said. The vaccines currently given in the United States have been designed to give people immunity by inhibiting the spike protein of the virus.
An article on Cell.com states that L452R has “reduced sensitivity to neutralizing mAbs (monoclonal antibodies),” which are used in vaccines currently approved to inhibit connections between the virus spike proteins and infected cells.
Chiu said early studies of the L452R spike protein mutation indicate that it is less sensitive to neutralizing antibodies in vaccines.
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, it is currently not known what the prevalence of L452 is statewide, nationally, or globally.
“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.
And there may be another problem with any of these vaccines.
California State epidemiologist Dr Erica Pan said on Sunday that a “higher than usual” number of people had apparent allergic reactions to a batch of Moderna vaccine at a clinic in the Greater Montreal area. San Diego.
“Out of extreme caution,” Pan recommended that clinics stop using doses of this specific lot until it is investigated.
California has received approximately 330,000 doses of the batch in question. This equates to about 10% of all vaccines distributed to date in the state.
As of Monday, state figures were mostly down, with 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 is the smallest number of intensive care beds available during the pandemic and is therefore of concern.
There is also the potentially more contagious British 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 was 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.