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New India Variant of COVID-19 Virus Found in California’s Bay Area

New India Variant of COVID-19 Virus Found in California’s Bay Area

  • Stanford’s Clinical Virology Laboratory has so far found one confirmed case and seven presumed cases of the variant, dubbed “double mutant” by Indian media.

A new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 that has been found in California has an India connection. Mercury News reports that Stanford University has detected a new form of the virus, in the Bay Area, “whose emergence in India is coinciding with a surge in cases.” The report further notes that Stanford’s Clinical Virology Laboratory has so far found one confirmed case and seven presumed cases of the variant, dubbed “double mutant” by Indian media.

Dr. Ben Pinsky, medical director of the laboratory, told Mercury News that the number of cases demonstrate “the rapid spread of this variant.” However, while the discovery of the strain, along with growing numbers of other versions of the virus, comes as no surprise to experts, Mercury News reports that the India variant “carries two worrisome mutations in a key part of the virus which help it latch onto cells.” 

The two mutations of the variant – E484Q and L452R – have been linked to India’s Maharashtra state, where there has been a surge in COVID-19 cases. The Hindustan Times reported on April 3 that Maharashtra is “bearing the brunt of India’s second wave of the coronavirus.”

According to the Mercury News report, “the Stanford lab discovered the mutations by scanning viral genetic sequences of patients – not just in their Peninsula-based facilities, but from their many clinics around the Bay Area..

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Meanwhile, other prominent COVID-19 variants found in the state include the Britain variant, which now accounts for 851 cases in the state, according to the California Department of Public Health. Similarly, two California grown strains of the virus —  B.1.427 and B.1.429 — account for 9,000 known cases.

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