Monday, January 18, 2021

COVID Variant Spreading Across State Found in Humboldt

Posted By on Mon, Jan 18, 2021 at 10:37 AM

A variant of COVID-19 has been identified in Humboldt County and is increasingly being found in counties across California, according to state health officials, who said the effort is on to learn more about 452R and how it spreads.

To date, Humboldt has seen 2,263 cases, with 233 positive tests confirmed last week on the heels of a record 269 the previous week.

“It is common to identify variants of viruses like SARS-CoV-2, and we are working with our federal, local and university partners to better understand this variant and how it might impact Californians,” Erica Pan, the state epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health, said in a release. “It’s too soon to know if this variant will spread more rapidly than others, but it certainly reinforces the need for all Californians to wear masks and reduce mixing with people outside their immediate households to help slow the spread of the virus. We also urge anyone who has been exposed to the virus to isolate from others to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

According to a CDPH release, the variant has been on health officials' radar since last year, when it was identified in other countries and in California, but the rate at which it is being detected has increased over the last few months.

“This variant is different than the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom,” the release state.” As the number of specimens tested to monitor for variant strains has increased at California labs, including UCSF, the 452R variant has been identified more frequently since November. The 452R variant been identified in several large outbreaks in Santa Clara County.”

Other counties where the variant has been detected include Lake, Los Angeles, Mono, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Luis Obispo.

It is still unclear how “prevalent the 452 variant is statewide, nationally or globally,” the release states.

Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UC San Francisco who has been sequencing cases from multiple counties across the state over the past several months as part of the state’s SARS-CoV-2 Whole Genome Sequencing Initiative known as COVIDNet, has noted an increase in the variant’s presences, the release states.

“This variant carries three mutations, including L452R, in the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to and enter cells, and is the target of the two vaccines that are currently available in the United States,” Chiu said. "Now that we know this variant is on the rise in our local communities, we are prioritizing it for study. Researchers at UCSF and elsewhere will now be able to perform the critical laboratory experiments to determine whether or not this virus is more infectious or affects vaccine performance.”

Read the full release from CDPH below: 
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), in coordination with Santa Clara County and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), today announced that an L452R variant of COVID-19 is increasingly being identified by viral genomic sequencing in multiple counties across the state.

The 452R variant has previously been detected in other countries and states, including California, and is now increasingly being found in multiple counties throughout California. The state is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local public health departments and laboratory sequencing partners to learn more about the variant, including how it spreads.

“It is common to identify variants of viruses like SARS-CoV-2, and we are working with our federal, local and university partners to better understand this variant and how it might impact Californians,” said Dr. Erica Pan, State Epidemiologist for CDPH. “It’s too soon to know if this variant will spread more rapidly than others, but it certainly reinforces the need for all Californians to wear masks and reduce mixing with people outside their immediate households to help slow the spread of the virus. We also urge anyone who has been exposed to the virus to isolate from others to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

The 452R variant was first identified last year in other countries and states, including California. This variant is different than the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom. As the number of specimens tested to monitor for variant strains has increased at California labs, including UCSF, the 452R variant has been identified more frequently since November. The 452R variant been identified in several large outbreaks in Santa Clara County.

“The fact that this variant was identified in several large outbreaks in our county is a red flag and must be investigated further,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody. “This virus continues to mutate and adapt, and we cannot let down our guard. This news underscores the need for everyone to follow all prevention measures and get vaccinated as soon as they are offered the vaccine.”

Santa Clara County has sequenced a large number of positive specimens collected from community testing sites and outbreaks in the county. The 452R variant was present in specimens from the community and from several large outbreaks, including outbreaks where very high numbers of people exposed contracted the virus. Analysis regarding the role of this and other variants in outbreaks and community spread in Santa Clara County is ongoing.

In addition to Santa Clara County, the 452R variant has been detected in Humboldt, Lake, Los Angeles, Mono, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Francisco, San Bernardino, San Diego and San Luis Obispo counties. Because genomic sequencing is not done equally across the state or country, it is too soon to know how prevalent the 452 variant is statewide, nationally or globally.

The 452R variant was most recently noted to contribute to an increasing proportion of COVID-19 cases in specimens sequenced by Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF. Dr. Chiu has been sequencing cases from multiple counties across the state over the past several months as part of the state’s SARS-CoV-2 Whole Genome Sequencing Initiative known as COVIDNet. “This variant carries three mutations, including L452R, in the spike protein, which the virus uses to attach to and enter cells, and is the target of the two vaccines that are currently available in the United States,” said Dr. Chiu.

"Now that we know this variant is on the rise in our local communities, we are prioritizing it for study. Researchers at UCSF and elsewhere will now be able to perform the critical laboratory experiments to determine whether or not this virus is more infectious or affects vaccine performance.”

Due to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, regardless of circulating variants, CDPH asks Californians to keep taking steps that will limit transmission of the virus and reduce strain on our health care systems.

This includes: • Staying home except for essential activities • Wearing a mask when leaving home • Limiting interactions with people outside your immediate household • Keeping physical distance of at least 6 feet apart • Washing hand for 20 seconds • Getting the COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible and vaccine is available in your area

CDPH has partnered with local public health labs, diagnostic labs, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, Invitae Corporation, UCSF, and Scripps Research Institute to form COVIDNet, a network of labs working to conduct genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in the state to understand transmission and evolution of the virus.

To date, several thousand specimens have been sequenced in California. CDPH is notified when specific strains are identified, and network labs coordinate to assess the different strains circulating in California. In addition, network laboratories coordinate with local health departments to conduct sequencing to inform outbreak investigations. 
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , ,

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

About The Author

Kimberly Wear

Bio:
Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

more from the author

Care2 Take Action?

socialize

Facebook | Twitter

© 2021 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation