The Los Angeles Public Health Department has recently declared that the nee variant of COVID19 called B.1.1.7, which has been identified in the UK for the first time, has been spreading across the region. Now the California Department of Public Health has found another lesser-known strain of the virus, which has been circulating in Los Angles County as well. Experts have said that the new variant called L452R has been found in Denmark for the first time. It has arrived in California as early as May. Dr. Charles Chiu who is a virologist and a professor at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) has been genetically sequencing test samples to find new strains of the virus. He has said that as per the early findings the L452R might be less vulnerable to existing approved vaccines. However, to validate these findings more research is required. Two variants, which have been identified in the UK and South Africa, have already caused global concern, now another strain of the virus has emerged which might derail the efforts to contain the pandemic.
Health experts have said that the new variant has three mutations in the spike protein along with L452R. The virus uses the spike protein to enter the human body. Two available vaccines Pfizer and Moderna in the US target the spike protein of the virus. Dr. Charles Chiu has said that in such a situation the spike protein mutation might interfere with the efficiency of the vaccine. The officials from the California Department of Public Health have said that Santa Clara County has done a genetic sequencing of a large number of test samples, which have been collected from community testing sites and many outbreaks in the County. The L452R variant has been found in many positive test samples from the community and several outbreaks where a large number of people who have been exposed to the virus have been diagnosed with COVID19. Dr. Sara Cody, who is the Health Officer of Santa Clara County as well, has confirmed that the variant has been found in many outbreaks in the county. The new variant has been found in Los Angeles, San Diego, Mono, San Luis Obispo, Humboldt, San Bernardino, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, and Lake counties as well. It is unclear how dominant this new variant is statewide, nationally, and globally as genomic sequencing is quite sparse. Dr. Chiu has said that around 3.8 percent of the samples have been identified with the new strain of the virus from late November 2020 to early December 2020. From late December 2020 to early January 2021, it has been found in more than 25.2 percent of samples.
Experts have reported there might be another issue with the efficacy of the vaccine as well. California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica pan has said that a higher than the usual number of people have suffered allergic reactions from the lot of Moderna vaccine at a clinic in San Diego. Erica pan has asked the clinic to stop using the doses from the specific batch until it is probed. The state has received around 330000 doses from the batch in question. It accounts for around 10 percent of all vaccine, which has been allocated across the state. This week, the number of new cases in the state has been quite low. There have been just over 30000 new cases, 201 new deaths, and 20968 patients have been admitted to hospitals. Only 1113 ICU beds are available in the state, which is the lowest number of ICU beds available during the pandemic.