Indian COVID-19 Variant in San Francisco, How Dangerous Is It?

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San Francisco officials have reported the first-ever case of a new coronavirus variant last week believed to be responsible for the surge of cases in India, with seven other cases expected to return positive.

Stanford Health Care’s Clinic Virology Lab detected the strain and believes it is the first of its kind in the United States. The new variant is a double mutation of the COVID-19 virus that combines California’s L452R and Brazil’s E484Q’s mutations.

Indian COVID-19 Variant

Health experts have consistently observed the mutation of the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. Scientists have been monitoring which strains are more dangerous for people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials first detected variants considered to be “variants of concern” in South Africa, Britain, Brazil, and California.

Despite the new variants, early research suggests the approved coronavirus vaccines will work against the strains. However, the treatment might be less effective than normal as health experts continue investigations.

The Indian variant of the COVID-19 virus has been largely detected in the Maharashtra state. The Health Ministry said they found the strain in about 15% to 20% of samples sequenced in the region.

Infectious disease expert, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, from the University of California, San Francisco, said there is no conclusive evidence that the new variant is more transmissible. “My gut sense is the vaccines will work against this Indian variant. Last week we got data Pfizer works against the South African variant. This being somewhat similar I hope it works well,” Chin-Hong said.

Stanford researchers collected viral samples from people across the Bay Area. They are continuing efforts to sequence whole viral genomes to identify any new mutations, the San Francisco Gate reported.

“In most cases, it is too early to say whether or how these variants will influence the course of the pandemic, but it is important to monitor their evolution and spread. Our surveillance testing is specifically designed to allow large-scale screening of viral samples to identify specific strains circulating in the Bay Area and throughout California,” Associate Professor of Pathology and of Infectious Diseases, Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, said in a statement.

Danielle Joyce Ong

Danielle is a local journalist with a passion for exploring stories related to crime and politics. When Danielle isn't busy writing or reading, she is usually exploring the great outdoors and all the hiking trails in the Bay.