SANTA CLARA COUNTY, California – A new variant of the coronavirus, first discovered in India, was diagnosed in the San Francisco Bay Area and is believed to be the first of its kind to be discovered in the United States.
The variant believed to be responsible for a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in India is classified as a double mutation, according to KNTV.
So far, Stanford University experts have only confirmed one case with the new variant nationwide, but more are expected, the broadcaster reported.
“We identified this new Indian variant last week immediately after it was reported in the lay press,” confirmed Dr. Ben Pinsky, director of the Stanford Clinical Virology Lab, told KTVU.
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The variant, which the Indian media has called the double mutant, has two mutations that make it more easily transmissible. However, research has not yet revealed whether it is a more dangerous variant of the virus, both outlets reported.
“It’s just less forgiving,” said Dr. Peter Chin Hong, a medical instructor who specializes in infectious disease management at the University of California at San Francisco, told KTVU. “The Indian variant has very, very similar symptoms. The main difference is that the transfer is much easier. “
Despite the increased portability of the new variant, Chin Hong said that the British variant B.1.1.7. Remains transmissible and he believes that all current vaccination options should provide effective protection against them.
“I am deeply convinced that the vaccines against this new Indian variant will continue to be effective based on some of the information we received about the even more frightening variants like the South African variant and the way Pfizer’s vaccine is actually effective against it, ”he told the TV station.
In the meantime, Dr. Stanford’s Dean Winslow, professor of medicine and former infectious disease consultant to the US Air Force surgeon general, told KNTV that there was “no clear evidence” that the double mutant “is more virulent or causes more serious disease” than other known variations.
“Most (vaccinated) people will develop an immune response. Maybe it won’t protect against widespread infection, but at least (a vaccine) will protect against moderate or severe illness, ”Winslow said.
According to KTVU, Stanford is currently testing seven other suspected cases of the Indian variant.
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