Stanford researchers have found the India variant of the novel coronavirus in California last week, the development coming at a time when Covid-19 cases are dropping in California.
“The Clinical Virology Lab at Stanford Health Care identified and confirmed the newly described ‘India’ variant last week,” Lisa Kim, spokesperson, Stanford Health Care, School of Medicine told indica News.
This variant has the L452R mutation found in the California variant, as well as another significant spike mutation, E484Q, it is learned. This same position is mutated to a different amino acid (K) in both the South Africa and Brazil (P.1 and P.2) variants.
When asked the number of cases from the India variant in California, Kim said: “One confirmed case by sequencing at Stanford, seven presumptive by screening RT-PCR. Due to HIPAA guidelines, we cannot provide details about the patient.”
A spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Health Department told indica News that it had been informed about the case and a new variant.
“It’s too early to tell if this variant is more infectious or resistant to vaccine antibodies,” the county health spokesperson responded in reply to indica News.
Dr Kavita Patel, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution, told CNBC: “The double mutation of a Covid-19 variant discovered in India is of grave concern — and could spread to other countries.
“It is something to watch very closely, and something that will not be limited to India,” she told CNBC’s Street Signs Asia. “It is something we will likely see around the world as we have with other variants.”
India’s health ministry too said that a variant with two mutations — known as E484Q and L452R — was found in the country. The mutations are not new, but the variant in India carries both of them — something that has not been seen in other variants.
According to Patel, the mutations could lead to reinfections since the body’s immune system won’t recognize it and therefore cannot effectively fight it.
India seemed to have got the Covid-19 pandemic numbers under control but infections have surged in the last few weeks again even as the country has rolled out two vaccines to everyone above age 45.
India on Monday recorded 1,03,558 new coronavirus infections, a fresh record for a 24-hour span.
According to the CDC, as of April 5, California had 3,582,463 confirmed cases of Covid-19, resulting in 58,534 deaths since March 2020.