California’s first cases of the South African coronavirus variant have been confirmed in the Bay Area, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday.
Newsom said one of the cases was found in Alameda County and the other in Santa Clara County. He did not share any additional information on those who tested positive or how they may have contracted the variant, called B.1.351. Newsom said the cases of the South Africa variant had been reported “as of a few hours ago.”
The announcement comes amid growing concern that mutations of the coronavirus, some of which are believed to be more contagious, may be increasingly spreading at a time when California is still digging out from the devastation of its winter surge.
While currently available vaccines appear to still be effective against most of the coronavirus variants that have been identified to this point, the strain fueling a resurgence of COVID-19 in South Africa was not slowed down by one therapeutic — an experimental vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University — that officials had been counting on to protect its frontline healthcare workers, prompting the government to shelve plans for an inoculation campaign that would have begun this month.
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