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Tue Apr 13, 2021, 05:28 PM

Why CA may not get a Covid surge...

"Are herd immunity and the California coronavirus variant preventing a West Coast spring surge?"


One factor that may be helping California — for reasons not fully understood — is the presence of the California variant. The California variant here might be helping to keep a lid on the U.K. variant, which is believed to be more transmissible than the conventional strains of the coronavirus and likely results in more severe illness and, as a result, a greater chance of death.

A big factor in the Midwest surge is the presence of the U.K. variant, which now accounts for about 70% of Michigan’s and Minnesota’s new coronavirus cases, Rutherford said. Michigan is now seeing its hospitals under pressure from surges of patients, and some hospitals in the state are canceling nonemergency procedures and enacting pandemic surge plans, the Detroit Free Press reported.

One bright side, however, is that the cluster in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Connecticut seems to be “starting to turn the corner a little bit,” Rutherford said.

The California variant is believed to be 20% more transmissible than the conventional coronavirus strains, but the U.K. variant is thought to be 50% more transmissible and more likely to cause worse illness. It’s possible that California will eventually be dominated by the U.K. variant, Rutherford said. “But for right now, we have way more of the [California variant],” he said.

The vaccines now approved in the U.S. have proved themselves to be very effective and very safe, experts say. And the variants that pose a relatively higher risk of being resistant to vaccines — the South African and Brazilian variants — have yet to establish a firm hold in the U.S.

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