CHICO, Calif. - Doctors recently found the first U.S. case of the new "double mutant" COVID-19 variant in a patient in San Fransisco. The double variant has both the California and South Africa strains combined.
Dr. Troy Cline a virologist who is a professor at Chico State said we could see this variant in Chico.
"I know Butte County is doing genome survey links," Cline said. "So virus isolates are being collected from patients. They are doing full genome surveillance on some isolates that are collected from patients. They are able to determine and will be able to determine which variants are showing up in Chico. "
Cline said this variant is so new they're still working to figure out if it's more contagious or causes a more severe case of COVID-19. They're working to see if and how the two different mutations will interact when they are put in the same virus.
Scientists believe the California variant increases the virus's ability to bind human cells, making it more infectious.
The South Africa variant might be harder for antibodies to detect and destroy, but health experts said the COVID-19 vaccines are still effective against these emerging variants.
"The most sure way of heading off an additional surge of COVID-19 cases and heading off and preventing the emergence, or further emergence of other virus variants is for everyone to get vaccinated when it is their turn," Cline said.
"You know it is unfortunate that things like this happen but we can't be afraid, and we can't live in fear because if we live in fear it causes stress on our bodies, it breaks down our immune systems and we become a prisoner in our own minds," said Chico resident, Chantelle Hall.
Cline said California could see another shutdown as more variants emerge. Besides getting vaccinated, Cline said people need to continue wearing their masks and practice social distancing.
Older adults and people with chronic health conditions are more vulnerable to this double mutation variant.