COVID-19 variant detected in Oxnard sewage surveillance

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Graphic displayed by county Public Health at the Ventura County Board of Supervisors' meeting on Jan. 16.


An innovative approach to tracking coronavirus in the Oxnard sewer plant has led to the confirmed discovery of a minute amount of a COVID-19 variant that is “hyper-transmissible,” according to Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin, who reported its discovery to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

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Levin told supervisors that, at first, he doubted the sewage surveillance would amount to much. However, it has turned into a trove of information, with the discovery of the variant and the ability for health officials to quantify the coronavirus in a population of approximately 250,000 people, and compare it from one week to the next.

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He said the variant discovered in Oxnard is more contagious than the original coronavirus, first detected in China, but not as transmissible as the UK or South Africa variant. He said the COVID-19 vaccine is effective against this variant, just as it is for the UK variant.


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“The impact that this will have on our county cannot be predicted,” he said. “This is uncharted territory.”

“It’s not surprising” that a variant was found, he added. “It is inevitable that one or more variants would come to Ventura.”


To watch Dr. Levin speak about the variant, view the presentation on Facebook at the 1:44 time stamp:

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