Just as California seemed to be on the verge of truly turning the Covid-19 corner, the Stanford Clinical Virology Lab confirmed a case of an emerging variant that originated in India, Deadline has learned.
According to Lisa Kim, who is Senior Manager of Media Relations for Stanford Health Care, “The Clinical Virology Lab at Stanford Health Care identified and confirmed the newly described ‘India’ variant last week. This variant has the L452R mutation found in the CA variant, as well as another significant spike mutation, E484Q. This same position is mutated to a different amino acid (K) in both the South Africa and Brazil (P.1 and P.2) variants.”
In more conversational terms, that means one of India variant’s mutations is like a key alteration first discovered in the so-called Brazil and South Africa variants. The other mutation is also found in a variant first detected in California, which is by far the state’s most widely-spread new strain.
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The news was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
The news is concerning because, for the first time, it combines worrisome mutations from separate variants of concern.
“This Indian variant contains two mutations in the same virus for the first time, previously seen on separate variants,” Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UCSF, told the Chronicle on Monday. “Since we know that the domain affected is the part that the virus uses to enter the body, and that the California variant is already potentially more resistant to some vaccine antibodies, it seems to reason that there is a chance that the Indian variant may do that too.”
Stanford’s Kim cautions that “it’s not known yet if this variant is more infectious or is resistant to vaccine antibodies,” but the news adds a new dimension to rising concerns about variants. As of April 1, California was tracking five variants of concern, including the U.K. (B.1.1.7), Brazil (P.1 and P.2), South Africa (B.1.351) and, of course, its home grown West Coast variants (B.1.427 and B.1.429). See chart below.