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What is the worrying alternative to the new Corona in the US state of California?



Two new studies indicate that one of the types of Corona virus that was first discovered in California is spreading rapidly throughout the state, and according to a report by theguardian newspaper, "These results come as the United States intensifies its efforts to track and classify the different forms of the mutated virus, and raise new questions about Coronavirus spread.


What is the alternative to Corona in California?

 

The California variant virus, called B.1.427 / B.1.429, first caught the attention of scientists in November 2020 and belongs to the Corona strain and carries similar mutations, and is believed to have appeared in May.


The variant has been detected in 19 countries, and throughout the United States, although limited monitoring has found that it is concentrated in California.


The variant contains three mutations that change the shape of a protein called a spike on the surface of the Coronavirus, and other variants, including those that were first discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, also have mutations in the spike proteins.


Researchers are concerned that these changes may make it difficult for the immune system to quickly recognize the virus and prevent it from occurring.


What does the research show so far?

 

There were two studies this week, both from teams at the University of California, San Francisco, but neither was reviewed or published in a journal.


The first study found that in late November, the variable B.1.427 / B.1.429 accounted for 16% of the samples sequenced in San Francisco, and by January, the variant represented 53% of the cases sampled.


The researchers found that after tracking 326 households, people in the same household as someone with the B.1.427 / B.1.429 variant had a 35% chance of infection, and people who lived with someone infected with any other type had a 26% chance of contracting the virus.


The team also found that the variable B.1.427 / B.1.429 was not associated with a severe infection, or higher "viral load" - the amount of virus that builds up in the body.


The second study was more pessimistic, as it sequenced 2,172 samples from 44 counties in California, and found that the variable B.1.427 / B.1.429 accounted for 0% of cases in September, and represented about 50% of cases by the end of January.


This team also looked at the medical charts of 324 patients hospitalized with Covid-19, and the team found that 69 of those patients were carrying the B.1.427 / B.1.429 variant, and these patients were more likely to be admitted to the ICU and more likely to die. And the researchers suggested that the substitute could evade the immune system.


How concerned about this alternative?

 

Although the California variant is now more common in the state, researchers believe it has likely been around since at least May.


"We are not expected to see more variants, and often these mutations allow them to become more transmissible," said Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco.


Will vaccines protect against these different variables?


 

The researchers found that vaccines may be somewhat less effective against variants that were first found in South Africa, because the mutations on the surface of the sticky proteins make this variant less likely to recognize some of the antibodies produced by the immune system to find the invasive virus.


Drug developers are now working to adapt vaccines to make them more effective against these emerging new variants.

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