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Coronavirus variant from India discovered in the Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. – Another form of coronavirus has been detected in the Bay Area by Stanford University.

“We identified this new Indian variant last week just immediately after it was reported in the lay press,” says Dr. Ben Pinsky, Stanford Clinical Virology Lab Director. 

Dr. Pinsky says the Indian Variant, dubbed Double Mutant byt the Indian media, was found in a patient in one of their bay area clinics.

The Double Mutant is the latest in a growing and diverse field of viral variants, but it has two mutations that make it easier to catch.

“If you are in an elevator with someone that is infected with the variant you are more likely to be infected by that variant,” says Dr. Pinsky. 

“It’s just less forgiving,” says UCSF’s Dr. Peter Chin Hong.

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“With the Indian variant you get the very very similar symptoms, the main difference is that it’s much easier to transmit.”

Dr. Chin Hong adds that he’s concerned about its presence in the Bay Area but says the UK Variant, B.1.1.7, is more transmissible.

“I, in my heart of hearts, believe that the vaccines will still be effective against this new Indian variant based on some of the information we’ve been getting about the even scary variants, like the South Africa variant, and how Pfizer’s vaccine is actually effective against it,” Dr. Chin Hong says. 

But he cautions, the more the virus replicates, the more chance the virus has to mutate into something more concerning.

“The sun is shining over California, our cases are down. We’ve made great progress. But, we need to be safe, we need to keep our guard up,” he says. 

Stanford did not disclose the locations of the strains, but says they’re testing seven more presumed cases.

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