SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — A new coronavirus variant has been found in the Bay Area, health officials announced Sunday.
Officials say the L452R variant is linked to several outbreaks in Santa Clara County and was first identified last year in other countries and states.
Santa Clara County Health Director Dr. Sara Cody confirmed the new variant was found in the Kaiser San Jose outbreak that infected dozens of people.
The variant was also found in San Francisco.
“The fact that this variant was identified in several large outbreaks in our county is a red flag and must be investigated further,” Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said. “This virus continues to mutate and adapt, and we cannot let down our guard. This news underscores the need for everyone to follow all prevention measures and get vaccinated as soon as they are offered the vaccine.”
This 452R variant is different than the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom.
The California Department of Public Health, along with Santa Clara County and UCSF announced the variant is increasingly being identified across California.
The state is now working with the CDC, local public health departments and laboratory sequencing partners to learn more about the variant and how it spreads.
“It’s too soon to know if this variant will spread more rapidly than others, but it certainly reinforces the need for all Californians to wear masks and reduce mixing with people outside their immediate households to help slow the spread of the virus,” CDPH Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said.
The variant was found in several large outbreaks in Santa Clara County, including outbreaks where very high numbers of people exposed contracted the virus.
In addition to Santa Clara County and San Francisco, the 452R variant has been detected in Humboldt, Lake, Los Angeles, Mono, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Luis Obispo counties.
“This variant carries three mutations, including L452R, in the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to and enter cells, and is the target of the two vaccines that are currently available in the United States,” said Dr. Chiu. “Now that we know this variant is on the rise in our local communities, we are prioritizing it for study. Researchers at UCSF and elsewhere will now be able to perform the critical laboratory experiments to determine whether or not this virus is more infectious or affects vaccine performance.”