COVID-19 : Cedars-Sinai study finds that more than a third of COVID-19 cases have new California strain – .

SAN DIEGO- Researchers have found a new strain of the coronavirus in more than a third of COVID-19 cases among Cedars-Sinai patients that could be contributing to the acceleration of the recent increase in cases in Southern California, according to a study published Monday.

The strain, which the researchers designated CAL.20C, is believed to be partly responsible for the dramatic increase in cases in the past two months. The Cedars-Sinai findings did not indicate whether the strain is more deadly than current forms of the coronavirus.

CAL.20C is different from the version of the virus identified in Britain known as B.1.1.7 that is spreading in the United States and is believed to be highly transmittable.

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According to researchers, in Southern California, B.1.1.7 has been found in scattered cases of coronavirus in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino counties. In contrast, the CAL.20C strain was identified in 36.4% of the cases in the Cedars-Sinai study.

CAL.20C includes a variant called L452R, of the virus reported Sunday by the California Department of Public Health based on data presented by Cedars-Sinai and other researchers.

This is one of the five recurring mutations that make up the CAL.20C strain, which is spreading across the country, beginning in Los Angeles County.

“The recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases in Southern California coincides with the emergence of CAL.20C,” said Dr. Eric Vail, assistant professor of pathology and director of molecular pathology in the Department of Pathology and Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Laboratory.

Vail is the corresponding co-author of the study, submitted to, an online archive of health science manuscripts that have not been peer reviewed, while it was simultaneously submitted for peer review on January 14, he reported. the hospital located in Los Angeles.

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Researchers, using publicly available databases, have detected the CAL.20C strain in multiple recent patient samples in Northern California, New York, Washington, DC, and Oceania.

To identify the CAL.20C strain, Cedars-Sinai researchers examined SARS-CoV-2 virus samples from 192 patients at Cedars-Sinai who tested positive for coronavirus between November 22 and December 28, 2020.

Using an advanced technique known as next-generation sequencing, they analyzed the genes of the viruses. They combined these data with 4,337 gene profiles of SARS-CoV-2 viruses obtained from patients throughout Southern California, also using publicly available databases.

Although the CAL.20C strain was almost non-existent in October, 36.4% of virus samples from Cedars-Sinai patients were determined in December to be the strain, as were 24% of all samples from southern California, defined by Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.

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Wenjuan Zhang, an assistant professor in Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and first author of the study, said the research team “is not sure what the new findings mean in terms of infectivity and resistance of antibodies from CAL.20C strain, which is important for follow-up studies to be completed. “

As of January 20, California had 3,019,371 cumulative confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in 34,433 deaths.