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2nd COVID-19 variant detected in Ventura County

1 29 21 Variant

A second coronavirus mutation, which may or may not be linked to the UK variant, has been detected in Ventura County, according to Ventura County Public Health, which announced it Friday.

An Oxnard sewage study result revealed the presence of a second mutation in a small amount of the coronavirus present in the sample. 

It is not clear yet if this new virus in Ventura County is the UK variant or just happened to share some of its mutations, Ventura County Public Health reported in a press release Jan. 29. Testing will take one to two weeks.

According to the press release: “The UK variant has 17 different mutations in its genetic code. Eight of those mutations occur in a critical part of the virus, called the spike protein, which reaches out and binds to human cells during the initial stages of infection. 

“Whether or not this new mutation proves to be the UK variant, the presence of the N501Y mutation itself is associated with increased transmissibility."

Earlier this year, Ventura County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Levin said it is likely the UK variant is in Ventura County, but he said there was no evidence of it at that time.

While this most recently discovered N501Y mutation found in Oxnard increases the transmissibility of the virus, it does not increase how deadly it is, Levin said. “The UK virus, which contains this mutation, is still prevented by the vaccines that are in use in our county. While the presence of this mutation is concerning, it was to be expected. It can still be controlled by social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands and avoiding gatherings. 

“Evidence of this is that while this virus is probably present throughout the United States, the numbers of COVID infections are decreasing over the last week.”

On Jan. 26, Levin announced the discovery of a minute amount of another more-transmissible coronavirus variant discovered in Oxnard sewage.

Because Oxnard has been testing samples of its wastewater on a weekly basis for a number of weeks, it identified the second new N501Y mutation, which is present in both the United Kingdom and South African variants.

This finding was made at the same time that cases of COVID are decreasing in the catchment area of this sewage plant, according to the press release. “Approximately 250,000 people are served by this plant. The N501Y mutation was present in only 0.283% of all the COVID virus present in the sample. The sample was 99.2% of the original COVID-19 virus. “The presence of this mutation in such a small amount of the sample tells me that this virus is not widespread in our county yet,” Levin said.

At least 24 states in the United States have been documented to have the N501Y virus present. The first case was found in Colorado on Dec. 29 and in California for the first time on Dec. 30.

 

 

 

 

 

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