It’s called L452R. It’s a new variant of COVID-19. Initially, it was detected in other countries and states, namely in Denmark last March. Now, it’s not only in California, it’s here in force in Santa Clara County.
The strain is being repeatedly detected by way of viral genomic sequencing. Experts are presently learning more about it, notably Dr. Charles Chiu, virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF, who’s seen 452R establishing a significant pattern among the cases under his purview, constituting around 25% of them.
According to State Epidemiologist for CDPH Dr. Erica Pan, “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 strain didn’t land on many medical professionals’ radars until late 2020. It’s not the same as B.1.1.7, the new strain detected last year in the United Kingdom and verified to be more contagious than the initial strain of COVID-19. But 452R has recurred in studies of viral samples since November, and is being tied to a variety of large COVID outbreaks here in our county. In these outbreaks, high rates of people exposed to the disease got infected, which indicates a higher degree of infectiousness than we’ve seen with the original form of COVID-19.
In a statement, Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said, “This news underscores the need for everyone to follow all prevention measures and get vaccinated as soon as they are offered the vaccine.”
452R is also showing up in other California counties, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Riverside, but its prevalence throughout the state, country, and globe are as yet unknown.
In Santa Clara County’s press release on L452R, they strongly urged the following:
- 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 hands for 20 seconds
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible and vaccine is available in your area