Study: California coronavirus variant spreads more easily, becoming state's dominant strain

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While overall COVID-19 cases are decreasing in the Bay Area, a new study has found a local coronavirus variant is apparently becoming a dominant strain.

The finding is based on recent testing in San Francisco’s Mission District.

The collaboration between UCSF, the Latino Taskforce and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub has been offering rapid tests and studying the results.

"Around Thanksgiving, of all the people who were positive, about 16 percent had one California strains," said Dr. Diane Havlir, who co-founded the partnership. "In January, really at the shoulder of the peak of the pandemic in San Francisco and the state, this had increased to over 50 percent."

As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, this particular mutation of the coronavirus strain "is thought to make the virus better able to stick to human cells, thus making the variant more infectious."

The California variant, known as L452R, was also linked to a deadly outbreak at a San Jose Kaiser Permanente emergency room. Though it appears to be more infectious than the original strain, indications are it’s not as bad as the UK variant.

"That really appears to be much more transmissible than what we’re seeing here," Dr. Havlir added.

She said news of the uptick in the local variant should not change the strategy of how to handle the spread.