by: Tristi Rodriguez, Gayle Ong, Nexstar Media Wire
Posted: April 5, 2021 / 3:30 p.m. CDT / Updated: April 5, 2021 / 2:47 p.m. CDT
STANFORD, Calif. (KRON) – A new ‘double mutant’ COVID-19 variant was identified and confirmed by scientists at Stanford Health last week. It now appears that a handful of people have contracted this strain, which features two mutations from the original version that have swept the globe.
Confirmation for the newly described variant came from the virology lab at the Stanford Health clinic, said Lisa Kim, senior director of media relations, at Nexstar’s KRON.
The double mutation is believed to originate in India. Stanford Health believes theirs is the first confirmed case in the United States.
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This variant has the L452R mutation, which recently caused massive outbreaks in California, but also another important spike mutation, E484Q.
One confirmed case has been identified by sequencing at Stanford, but seven suspected cases are being tested, hospital officials said.
It is not yet known whether this variant is more infectious or resistant to vaccine antibodies.
Stanford researchers have started examining hundreds of viral samples taken from people in the Bay Area, with plans to increase dramatically in the coming days. They have also started to sequence entire viral genomes to identify new mutations as they arise in key viral proteins.
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In most cases, it’s too early to tell if or how these variants will influence the course of the pandemic, but it’s important to monitor their course and spread, said Benjamin Pinsky, MD, Ph.D, associate professor. of Pathology and Infectious Diseases at the Stanford School of Medicine. Our surveillance tests are specifically designed to enable large-scale screening of viral samples to identify specific strains circulating in the Bay Area and throughout California.
Last month, the Associated Press first confirmed the new virus detected in India.
The new variant found in India has two mutations in the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to cells, said Dr Rakesh Mishra, director of the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, one of 10 research institutes sequencing the virus. .
He added that these genetic changes could be of concern as they could help the virus spread more easily and escape the immune system, but he cautioned against the link with any flare at this point.
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