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Virologist Says New California Variant of COVID Could Be Resistant to Vaccines

Image source: CBN News
Image source: CBN News

There's a tragic new milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic as more than 400,000 Americans now have reportedly died from the virus. But there's also a new cause for concern.

Doctors believe a newly-discovered "California variant" is behind a massive wave of new cases there. The strain, known as L452R, was first discovered in Denmark last March then appeared in California in May, Deadline reports.

Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF, explained that L452R may have a higher resistance to the vaccines currently in use to combat COVID-19, however additional research is necessary.

"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," Chiu said. "A spike protein mutation could, then, interfere with the vaccine's efficacy."

In Los Angeles, more than one-third of COVID patients could be infected with the mutation. 

"Something that's stickier like this new variant potentially is, can cause us to have setbacks in all of the hard work that we've done so far," explained Dr. Peter Chin-Hong with UC San Francisco School of Medicine.

According to KCRA News in Sacramento, the counties where the L452R variant has been detected include:

  • Santa Clara County
  • Humboldt
  • Lake
  • Los Angeles
  • Mono
  • Monterey
  • Orange
  • Riverside
  • San Francisco
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • San Luis Obispo

 And a more contagious variant of the coronavirus from the United Kingdom is now in 20 states. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the UK variant, referred to as B.1.1.7, appeared in Sep. 2020 and has become the primary circulating strain throughout England.

"Current projections by the experts predict that if left unchecked, this variant could dominate locally by March," said Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Additionally, the CDC revealed that another variant of COVID, identified as B.1.351, was found outside of South Africa.

The incoming Biden administration intends on shutting down President Trump's plan to re-open the country to travelers from the UK and other countries who have tested negative or recovered from the virus. 

Biden's press secretary tweeted, "This is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel." 

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