Skip to Content

Southern California Is Origin of New COVID-19 Variant

FRIDAY, Feb. 12, 2021 -- A new variant of COVID-19 found in Southern California is coursing across the United States and around the world, a new study finds.

The variant -- called CAL.20C -- was first found in July in Los Angeles County. It reappeared in Southern California in October, then spread in November and December, with a regional surge in coronavirus cases.

The variant now makes up nearly half of COVID-19 cases in Southern California.

It's not clear whether CAL.20C might be more lethal than current coronavirus variants, or whether it might resist current vaccines. New research is underway Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles to help answer those questions.

"New variants do not always affect the behavior of a virus in the body," said study co-author Dr. Eric Vail, an assistant professor of pathology at the Cedars-Sinai Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics.

The new variant has spread to 19 states and the District of Columbia, as well six other countries, according to the report, published Feb. 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

As of Jan. 22, the variant had been found in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Washington, D.C. It was also found in Australia, Denmark, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom, according to the new study.

Study co-author Jasmine Plummer said people traveling from Southern California are carrying CAL.20C to other places. Plummer is a research scientist at the Cedars-Sinai Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics in Los Angeles.

"CAL.20C is moving, and we think it is Californians who are moving it," Plummer said in center news release.

Vail said researchers are keenly interested in CAL.20C, because it involves the so-called spike protein, which enables the SARS-CoV-2 virus to invade and infect normal cells.

© 2021 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: February 2021

Read this next

AHA News: Finally Getting Around to That Annual Physical? Here's What You Might Find

MONDAY, March 1, 2021 (American Heart Association News) -- Some patients looking to reschedule annual physicals, wellness visits or other routine medical appointments long delayed...

AHA News: Which Blood Pressure Number Matters Most Might Depend on Your Age

MONDAY, March 1, 2021 (American Heart Association News) -- Systolic blood pressure is the best way to predict future cardiovascular events and death, irrespective of age,...

Vaccinating Oldest First for COVID Saves the Most Lives: Study

MONDAY, March 1, 2021 -- Putting the oldest people near the front of the line for COVID-19 shots will save more lives and may extend their lifespan, too, researchers say. The new...

More News Resources

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Whatever your topic of interest, subscribe to our newsletters to get the best of Drugs.com in your inbox.