New ‘double mutant’ COVID strain has potential to cause chaos

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — Just by its name, it sounds startling.

The “double mutant” strain of the coronavirus has now been detected in the United States and the big concern is that it is more infectious and problematic than any variant out there.

This particular variant has already wreaked havoc in India and this week, researchers with Stanford University have detected as many as five cases of the strain in California.

What makes this variant unique, researchers say, is it contains two key mutations that have been discovered separately in other variants but never found together in just one. 

“It looks like it may be more transmissible and potentially less able to be neutralized by antibodies,” said Dr. Benjamin Pinsky, Medical Director at Stanford’s Clinical Virology laboratory which made the discovery.

What’s even more concerning, according to Dr. Pinsky, is that vaccines may be less effective at combating the variant which is blamed for a 55% uptick in cases in India.

“It’s still a relatively low prevalence at the moment but it’s something to watch out for,” he said.

It’s the latest chapter in the ongoing pandemic which is currently being fueled by variants, a result of the virus adapting and seemingly outsmarting modern medicine.

Currently, the UK variant is a driving force behind what’s become a third wave in New Jersey. 

“It’s going to keep on mutating as long as we create an environment for it to survive and thrive,” Dr. Lipi Roy, medical director of COVID-19 isolation sites at New York-based Housing Works, explained. 

Dr. Roy said the only effective weapons right now are those we’ve been using for the past year.

“We know how to prevent it, that’s our number one weapon — masks, distancing and then get that vaccine when it’s your turn,” she said.

While cases have been confirmed in the United States, it’s unclear if the double mutant strain has already reached the tri-state area.

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