A new study has found that a SARS-CoV-2 variant first identified in Southern California has now been found in other states and even other countries, KTLA reports.
Last month, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center reported that while testing patient samples from the region — which was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases — for the B.1.1.7 strain that had been uncovered in the UK, they instead found that a different strain, now dubbed CAL.20C, was prevalent there. The strain first popped up in July, but didn't take hold until later in the year. By December, it was present in a quarter of all COVID-19 cases in Southern California.
In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Cedars-Sinai-led researchers now say CAL.20C has spread outside of Southern California based on analysis of samples in the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) database. By January 2021, the strain was present in 19 states and Washington, DC, and six counties, they report.
"CAL.20C is moving, and we think it is Californians who are moving it," co-senior author Jasmine Plummer, a research scientist at Cedars-Sinai, says in a statement.
The CAL.20C strain has three variants that affect the spike protein, KTLA adds, and the researchers note that it is unclear whether CAL.20C is more deadly than other strains or whether it is more resistant to vaccines, but work into those questions is ongoing.