'Double-mutant' COVID strain discovered in California

New coronavirus strain with multiple mutations feared to be more infectious than regular strain.

Gary Willig ,

Coronavirus strain
Coronavirus strain

A new 'double mutant' strain of the coronavirus has been discovered in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

The strain originated in India and has been prevalent in the Indian State of Maharashtra, which has seen coronavirus cases surge by 50% over the last week.

One case of the variant was identified in California by the Stanford Clinical Virology Lab, which is currently screening seven other potential cases, Stanford Health Care spokesperson Lisa Kim said.

Scientists have referred to the strain as a "double mutant" because it contains two mutations which help the virus attach itself to host cells.

Scientists fear these mutations could make the strain more infectious than the regular coronavirus.

Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, told the Chronicle that it "makes sense" for the new variant to be more easily transmissible, but it is currently unknown whether it truly is. At least one of the mutations is similar to mutations found in the Brazilian and South African variants, which are considered more infectious.

“This Indian variant contains two mutations in the same virus for the first time, previously seen on separate variants,” Dr.Chin-Hong said.

“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,” he added.