Bay Area was discovered to be infected with two new variants of the novel coronavirus after a study conducted by researchers from Stanford University.
A spokesperson for the university confirmed the news that a Stanford virology lab found both of the UK and Brazilian variants of the coronavirus existed in the Bay Area. However, the group did not specify which part of the region they found the variants.
New COVID-19 Variant
Experts said that with each new strain or mutation of the virus, it grows more difficult to control, becoming more contagious, deadly, and potentially more resistant to treatments.
“If you immunize people as fast as possible, that will actually just bring down the amount of virus in the community, so it gives a lower chance of mutating,” UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said.
Many said that with the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions within the Bay Area this week and California’s numbers reaching a total of more than 40,000 coronavirus-related deaths made it more likely for the variants to reach the region.
“It doesn’t make me feel more worried,” a resident of San Mateo, David Ammons, said. “Yeah, it’s bound to happen. We just assumed it was going to happen,” a Berkeley resident, Liz McAlpine, said.
Experts believe the new UK variant of the COVID-19 virus is nearly 50% more contagious than the original. Dr. Chin-Hong called it a stickier version of the coronavirus that has ravaged the world since last year.
“The Brazilian variant may have two superpowers, not just stickier, but it may allow you to be reinfected with COVID,” Chin-Hong said.
Experts so far believe that the coronavirus vaccines would be effective even against the new variants of the virus. One person recently inoculated with the treatment was given hope after getting his first infection.
“Because this will lessen the likelihood of my catching the severe disease, I’m not as concerned,” Oakland resident Michael Loeb said, KTVU reported.
Medical professionals have been struggling to release vaccines that could contain the coronavirus before it could mutate out of control. However, with little knowledge about the new strains, experts have no way of determining how fast they are spreading.
“Because in California we only test for, we only check about seven in every 30,000 cases, so when you see this lab has found a variant or that lab has found that variant, you know it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg,” Chin-Hong said.