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Worrisome New Variant Turns Up in California

India's 'double mutant' strain is found
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2021 2:11 PM CDT

(Newser) – One of the world's hot spots for COVID at the moment is India, which registered more than 100,000 new daily cases for the first time on Monday, reports NPR. The surge in India has coincided with the emergence of a mutant strain of the virus there—actually a strain with two mutations that has been dubbed the "double mutant" variant in the Indian press. Health authorities are still investigating and have been careful not to blame the strain for the spike in cases, notes the AP. Other factors, including a loosening of safety protocols, might be playing a role. Regardless, the San Jose Mercury News reports on a potentially worrying development—the "double mutant" strain has shown up in the US, specifically in the Bay Area.

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So far, one confirmed case and seven suspected cases have turned up at Stanford’s Clinical Virology Laboratory. "This demonstrates the rapid spread of this variant," says Dr. Ben Pinsky, the lab's medical director. Much is unknown about the strain, including whether it can spread more easily or better elude vaccines. "We don’t know how these two mutations occurred in the same virus," infectious disease specialist Dr. Mohammed Reza tells First Coast News. "It could be one person was infected with two different variants at the same time, and their offspring could have this mutant." (Better news: Over the weekend, the US hit the milestone of logging more than 4 million daily vaccinations.)

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