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New Coronavirus Variant Spotted in California

Scientists are raising concerns over a new coronavirus variant that has been identified in California.

California had produced a variant of its own. That mutant, which belongs to a lineage known as CAL.20C, seemed to have popped up in July but lay low till November. Then it began to quickly spread.

CAL.20C accounted for more than half of the virus genome samples collected in Los Angeles laboratories on Jan. 13, according to a new study that has not yet been published.

In one of the new studies, researchers found that the variant has spread rapidly in a San Francisco neighborhood in the past couple of months. The other report confirmed that the variant has surged across the state, and revealed that it produces twice as many viral particles inside a person’s body as other variants do. That study also hinted that the variant may be better than others at evading the immune system — and vaccines.

According to Dr. Charles Chiu, Associate Director of the Clinical Microbiology Lab at UCSF and the study lead said the mutation might make the virus more efficient at docking to cells, increasing its infectiousness.

There’s no evidence that CAL.20C is more lethal than other variants. And scientists have to conduct more research to determine whether CAL.20C is in fact more contagious than other forms of the virus.