California scientists suspect that in the state, there is a homegrown coronavirus strain that could be responsible for the drastic spike in cases, a study said Sunday.
According to the Los Angeles Times, two independent study groups have identified the obvious California strain when searching for the new version that is thought to have originated from the United Kingdom.
The suspected California strain is in the same “family tree” as the UK strain and, the paper said, may be behind the spread of the state over the past few months.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, one of the laboratories that detected the virus, said it amounted to 24 percent of around 4,500 viral samples collected in the last weeks of 2020 in California.
Another study showed that the new strain accounted for 25 percent of 332 samples taken in Northern California.
“Under our noses, there was a homegrown variant,” Dr. Charles Chiu, a specialist in laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told the newspaper.
Chiu said that while looking for the UK version, they only discovered the strain.
Dr. Eric Vail, a pathologist at Cedars Sinai, said the strain could be responsible, in less than three months, for doubling the state’s death toll.
“Vail said, “It undoubtedly helped to drive up the number of cases during the holiday season.
“But the predominant factor in the spread of a virus is human behaviour, and the fact that it happened when the weather was colder and when people gathered in the middle of the holidays is not an accident.”