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New COVID-19 variant discovered in California

This is not the first mutation of COVID, another particularly contagious form was found in the UK.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It is a scientific fact that viruses mutate. While it is troublesome, it does not mean the fight against the pandemic is back to square one.

“With all viruses that we’ve ever encountered in our history, they’ve [mutated]. They all changed," said Assistant Chief Medical Officer at UF Health Jacksonville Chirag Patel. "COVID is just another in the long line of viruses." 

Another COVID mutation found in California called the L452R variant. Different from the highly contagious variant that was identified in the UK.

“There’s been tens of thousands of variations that have been mapped out, but the good news is that the majority if not most of those aren’t going to have any impact on how deadly or contagious the virus is," said Dr. Patel. 

The new strain has been detected in other countries and states, but increasingly found in California.

“In order for that virus to survive, it has to evolve," Dr. Patel said. "And the way it does that is that it keeps features that are helpful in its survival and so then we get this mutated version that looks different to our bodies." 

The California Department of Public Health said the state is working with the CDC, local public health departments and laboratory sequencing partners to learn more about the variant and how it spreads.

“Around the world i mean labs are identifying small changes in that genetic make up every day," Dr. Patel said. "The key here is does that change actually cause some sort of behavioral change in the virus." 

While new variants may pop up over time, Dr. Patel said people need to keep doing their part in staying safe from the virus.

“Please don’t fear anymore than you have previously, as long as we continue to be smart about taking the protections we need to take we’ll get through this,” Dr. Patel explained.