Mallory Pickett | March 1, 2021 | Lookout Santa Cruz

UC Santa Cruz scientists said Monday that they had completed genomic sequencing of 84 COVID-19 samples from Santa Cruz County, with none of the CDC’s three official “variants of concern” turning up.

But approximately 65% of the samples contained the so-called California variant, known as B.1.427/B.1.429, that is creating worries — though not quite sounding alarms — in the medical community.

County health officer Dr. Gail Newel cautioned that scientists really don’t know much about this variant yet. “Preliminarily, we think that it may be more transmissible and maybe more lethal,” she said, “but not enough is known.”

Dr. Russ Corbett-Detig, whose lab led the analysis of the sequencing data, said the UCSC findings are “reasonably consistent with findings from other counties in California.” He echoed Newel’s statement that the “the jury’s out,” on whether the variant is more transmissible, or more lethal.

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