The newly identified COVID-19 strain in California may be leading to the recent infection spike in the state, according to a new study.

What’s happening?

A new study — which has not been peer-reviewed — suggests that more than one-third of the recent COVID-19 patients were infected with another new strain of COVID-19 in California.

  • The patients all came from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
  • The new strain — known as CAL.20C — accounted for 36% of all virus samples from Cedars-Sinai patients and 24% of all samples in Southern California, according to CBS News.
  • This same strain has been discovered in Northern California, New York, Washington, D.C., and even Oceania, according to CBS News.
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Context

The California Department of Public Health discovered a new COVID-19 variant circulating through Los Angeles County, as I wrote about for the Deseret News.

  • Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UC San Francisco, said he has been conducting genetic sequencing to identify new mutations to COVID-19, and he recently discovered one in California.
  • The variant — called L452R — was present in community spread and large outbreaks, as I wrote for the Deseret News. It was originally first discovered in Denmark.
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Key quotes

  • “The double-digit prevalence of the CAL.20C strain in November and December was striking given that it was first observed in July 2020 in just one of 1,230 virus samples in Los Angeles County and had not again been detected in Southern California until October,” said Jasmine Plummer, Ph.D., research scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics, in a release on the findings.
  • “The identification of this novel strain of SARS-CoV-2, like strains arising in Britain and South Africa, is highly significant to frontline and global surveillance of the constantly evolving COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jeffrey Golden, M.D., vice dean of research and graduate education, in a release. “We are delighted that the California Department of Public Health was able to use our data to also identify one of the variants included in this new strain. The pioneering research of our Cedars-Sinai investigators is part of our ongoing drive to discover new ways to identify, treat and prevent COVID-19.”