Called CAL.20C, the new variant was identified last month in a person infected in July last year with an earlier variant of the coronavirus, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley said.
“It’s really significant that the CAL.20C variant, which appears to be present in at least a third of cases (in California), has managed to reinfect someone,” said Stacia Wyman, a researcher at the university’s genomics institute.
“That person’s viral load was very high,” Wyman said.
In a set of 95 viral genomes collected between November 4 and January 21, the institute researchers found that 26% were associated with the new variant, CAL.20C.
According to researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CAL.20C is different from the most contagious mutant variant first identified in the UK, known as B.1.1.7, which is also spreading in the US. USA
In Southern California, the UK variant has been associated with some “scattered cases of coronavirus” in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino counties, Cedars-Sinai researchers said Wednesday.
In contrast, the CAL.20C strain was identified in 36.4% of the cases analyzed in a recent Cedars-Sinai study.
Not much is known about CAL.20C yet, but there are fears that it may be more infectious.
CAL.20C is defined by multiple mutations in protein S, a characteristic it shares with the UK and South African variants, according to the Cedars-Sinai findings, released online for peer review.
The CAL.20C strain includes the L452R virus variant reported by the California Department of Public Health last month, the DPA notes.
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