What to know about new virus detected in India thats in SF Bay Area – SF Gate

One case of a new virus first detected in India was identified in the San Francisco Bay Area last week and seven other cases are expected.

The Clinic Virology Lab at Stanford Health Care detected the variant and believes it is the first instance identified in the United States, according to KRON.

The variant found in India features a combination of two mutations in the spiky protein that have been identified in other variants: the L452R mutation first detected in California that is believed to be 20% more transmissible, and the E484Q that’s dominant in Brazil.

The virus has been mutating throughout the pandemic. Most mutations are trivial, but scientists have been investigating which ones might make the virus spread more easily or make people sicker. Variants first detected in South Africa, Britain, Brazil and California have been designated “variants of concern” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of these variants have been detected in the Bay Area.

Early research suggests the vaccines offers protection against the new variants, although they may be slightly less effective and further investigation is needed.

The variant from India has mainly been detected in the country’s Maharashtra state and the Health Ministry said in a statement that it was found in 15% to 20% of the samples sequenced in that region.

There hasn’t been any definitive evidence that it’s more transmissible, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at UCSF, told KCBS Monday morning.

“My gut sense is the vaccines will work against this Indian variant,” Chin-Hong said.  “Last week we got data Pfizer works against the South African variant. This being somewhat similar I hope it works as well.”

Stanford researchers screened hundreds of viral samples collected from people across the Bay Area and are sequencing whole viral genomes to identify new mutations as they arise in key viral proteins.

“In most cases it is too early to say whether or how these variants will influence the course of the pandemic, but it is important to monitor their evolution and spread,” Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, associate professor of pathology and of infectious diseases at the School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Our surveillance testing is specifically designed to allow large-scale screening of viral samples to identify specific strains circulating in the Bay Area and throughout California.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.