Stanford Researchers First to Discover COVID-19 Variants in the Bay Area

That variant first found in South Africa has now been found in adults in both Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

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Researchers at Stanford University were the first to discover a more infectious variant of COVID-19 in the Bay Area, with a new test they developed just about three weeks ago to look for it.

“With the advances in technology, it’s easy now to develop this test as soon as you can know the sequence of the variant that is circulating,” said Stanford Doctor Obadia Kenji. “You are able to develop this test.”

Kenji is the operations manager of infectious disease testing at Stanford and he says the team’s work shows that the California variant of COVID-19 is the most widespread at the moment.

They’ve also identified the variants first found in the U.K. and in South Africa in the samples they’ve tested and there’s one specific issue researchers worry about the most right now.

“There is concern that the current vaccine may not be effective against the South African variant,” said Kenji. “Most specifically, the Oxford astrazeneca vaccine.”

That variant’s now been found in adults in both Santa Clara and Alameda counties.

On Thursday, Alameda County health officials wouldn’t share any information about the infected person there, but Santa Clara health officials say the sick person in their county quarantined after an international trip so exposure to others may be low.

They still want to warn people not to let their guard down.

“In some ways we have to assume that it is circulating in the community, we just don’t know to what extent but we need to double down and wear masks,” said Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.

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