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New COVID strain detected in California patient

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SAN DIEGO, California - A second confirmed case of the UK variant of COVID-19 has been discovered in southern California.

Confirmation of the San Diego county case was announced Wednesday (Dec. 30) afternoon, according to KGTV, a San Diego ABC News affiliate station. 

The station reports that County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher explained the infected individual has been identified as a man in his 30's who had no travel history.

The patient reportedly began displaying COVID symptoms on Sunday (Dec 27). He was tested two days later, on Tuesday.

Fletcher indicated that this patient may not be the only person in the area with the UK variant of COVID-19, saying, “We believe this is not an isolated case in San Diego County, and there are probably other cases of the same strain in San Diego County.” 

According to KGTV, the man was not hospitalized and one person in his household who showed symptoms is being tested, in addition to these measures, contacting tracing is underway.

“Detecting this lineage here doesn’t really change what we’re doing here, it just means we need to do it better,” says Dr. Kristian Andersen, of the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research. “We need to prepare this probably what we’re going to see in the following months,” Dr. Andersen added.

California Governor Gavin Newsom also weighed in on the case, holding a Wednesday news conference announcing the discovery and interviewing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The first US case of the variant was discovered in Colorado on Tuesday (Dec. 29).

Dr. Fauci said Wednesday he wasn’t surprised the variant was found in the US. "I don't think Californians should feel this is something odd," Fauci said. "This is something expected."

In harmony with Dr. Fauci's statement, a number of internationally recognized health authorities agree that the UK variant, though believed to be more easily spread, does not appear to be more deadly than previously identified COVID-19 strains.

In addition to this, Melissa Nolan, an infectious disease expert and professor at the University of South Carolina, told USA Today that the coronavirus vaccine designers predicted the virus would mutate and “included various predictions of viral strains” in the vaccine.

So, though additional cases in the U.S. are likely, experts agree that the current vaccines available to states across the nation should be able to ward off the virus. 

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