SAN FRANCISCO—The Stanford Clinical Virology Lab recently identified a “double mutant” COVID-19 variant in the Bay Area, as first reported by the SF Chronicle. India was the first to report the variant in March 2021.
The SF Chronicle said “double mutant” is “when the variant carries two mutations that helps latch itself onto cells” and currently, it is unknown if it “is more infectious or resistant to vaccine antibodies.”
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), variants is when “viruses constantly change through mutations that create new strains of virus.” Variants are “identified through their genetic sequence.”
Aside from the “double mutant” variant, the CDPH identifies other variants, including:
- B.1.1.7: This is “associated with approximately 50% increased transmission, and likely with increased disease severity and risk of death” and “appears to have minimal impact on the effectiveness of treatments with antibodies.”
- B.1.351: Like the first one, this variant also has “approximately 50% increased transmission.” However, this variant “may have moderately decreased response to antibody treatment.”
- B.1.427 & B.1.429: Both “closely related” and are “associated with approximately 20% increased transmission.” In addition, there is “significantly reduced efficacy of some antibody treatment.”
- P.1: This variant has “moderately decreased response to some antibody treatment.”
The Indian government first reported the “double mutant” variant on March 24 and appeared in other countries like the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa.
Medical Director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory for Stanford Health Care, Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, said he is unsure “whether the vaccines will be less effective against this variant” but said there is “information on experiments on the individual mutations suggesting that antibodies will be less able to neutralize this Indian variant,” to SF’s ABC 7 News.
The news comes after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on April 6 that the state will fully reopen on June 15 if there are enough vaccines for anyone 16 and older as well as maintaining low hospitalization rates.
The governor said the state expect “over 30 million people” vaccinated by the end of April “with the expectation of an abundance of doses coming in from the federal government though the end of this month and into May,” during his news conference.
California reported on April 6 that more than 20.26 million residents have been vaccinated with more than 1,300 news COVID-19 cases. Seven deaths were reported that day.
As of April 6, the total number of American deaths is 554,420, according to the CDC. Globally, there are more than 2.8 million deaths.
San Francisco News reached out to the CDC, but has yet to receive a response.