In December, scientists in California began looking for infection cases with the new variant of the coronavirus from Great Britain. Although they found some infections from the Old Continent strain, scientists were surprised to find that a strain indigenous to California was responsible for most new cases.
Named “B.1.426,” this strain of coronavirus is believed to be responsible for the rapid increase in infections during the holiday season in California, where more than 3.1 million cases were reported, and 36,790 people have died.
The strain has five mutations, including “CAL.20C,” which has been increasingly found in California. According to researchers, the 2CAL.20C” strain was barely recognized in October, but by December, it began to account for a significant number of new infections.
The new Californian strain is responsible for most new cases in LA
CAL.20C was first detected in July, but infections with this mutation of the coronavirus were sporadic in the system until early November. Since then, this new strain has spread fairly rapidly through the California population.
Most of the current infections in Los Angeles are divided into two subclasses, those infected by the so-called “20G,” which is the predominant strain of coronavirus in the United States and accounts for 24% of infections; and the new “CAL.20C” mutation responsible for 36% of infections. The other 40% of infections are due to other coronavirus variants.
Unlike 20G, this new CAL.20C strain is defined by multiple mutations in the S protein – which generates the surface peaks that mediate receptor binding and membrane fusion between the virus and the host cell – a feature it shares with the UK and South African strains, both of which are of great clinical and scientific interest.
There is currently no evidence to indicate that the CAL.20C variant is more lethal than the other circulating variants of the coronavirus, unlike the strain brought in from the UK, which is more lethal.
CDC intensifies its monitoring of new coronavirus’ strain
Meanwhile, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is doubling down on its efforts to track the various coronavirus mutations, to ensure that new vaccines and treatments for Covid-19 continue to be appropriate, “until herd immunity is achieved,” as CDC’s new director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, put it.
“We are now expanding both our surveillance – referring to the new strains – as well as our studies of them,” Walensky said, adding that the CDC was working with the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and even the Pentagon to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Scientists have warned that the UK strain is already found in at least 20 states in the Union. Although the lethality of the UK strain, of greater concern, is the South African strain that has also made its presence felt in the United States and is much more contagious than its European counterpart.
Moderna announced that it is working on a vaccine booster to develop antibodies for both the UK and South African variants.
About 21.8 million Americans, or about 6.5% of the population, have received at least one dose of vaccine to date, out of 41.4 million doses shipped, CDC data showed Sunday. More than 25 million coronavirus cases had been recorded in the United States since the country’s pandemic last year.