Since December 2020, a number of COVID mutations have been identified around the world. Now researchers have discovered a potentially worrisome variant in India, which the BBC has dubbed the “double mutant” as it contains not one, but two mutations in its genetic composition—and it has already made its way to the United States. Read on to find out where the new double mutant has been identified—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Signs Your Illness is Actually Coronavirus in Disguise.
According to experts, each of the mutations in this double mutant have been identified in other variants of concern being tracked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We don’t know how those two mutations behave when they’re paired together,” Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Stanford, where the first domestic cases of the double mutation was identified, said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
Pinsky claims that evidence of the mutation was first disclosed by India’s government March 24, after a surge of infections in the nation’s second-most populous state, Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located. Reportedly, the double mutation accounts for 15% to 20% of new coronavirus cases there. “Such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity,” a release from India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said. “These mutations have been found in about 15-20% of samples and do not match any previously catalogued variants of concern.”
Then, the following day, the Stanford lab confirmed the same variant in a sample from a patient in the San Francisco Bay Area. Additionally, there are seven presumptive cases in the same region. “On the 25th, we actually got our sequence back and found that, ‘Wow, this is actually the same variant that they’re talking about,'” Pinsky continued. “So this rapid spread across the globe is pretty impressive, and also a bit concerning.”
L452R (the one found in the California variant) and E484Q (closely related to the E484K mutation found in South Africa, Brazil, and New York variants) are the two mutations that make up the double mutant. “What we don’t know is how those [two mutations] will behave when they’re put in the same virus,” Pinsky said. “There’s a reasonable amount of information about those [two mutations] individually. But will it be worse if they’re together? We don’t really know how they’re going to interact.”
The best way to protect yourself from the double mutant as well as the other strains of COVID? Keeping following Dr. Anthony Fauci’s fundamentals, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.