A report on Sunday said scientists in California believe there is a local strain of coronavirus in the state that may be responsible for the spike in the number of cases.
Two separate research groups discovered the apparent California strain while searching for a new variant that is believed to have come from the United Kingdom, according to Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper said the supposed California breed is in the same “family tree” as the UK strain and could be behind the state’s spread over the past few months.
One of the labs that discovered the strain, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said it accounted for 24 percent of the nearly 4,500 viral samples collected across California in the final weeks of 2020.
Another analysis found that 25 percent of the 332 samples taken in Northern California were of the new strain.
“There was a local variant under our noses,” Dr. Charles Chiu, a laboratory medicine specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, told the newspaper.
Chiu said they only found the breed when looking for the British variant.
Dr. Eric Vail, a pathologist at Cedar Sinai, said the strain could be responsible for doubling the state’s total death toll in less than three months.
“It may have helped accelerate the number of cases this holiday season,” Phil said.
“But human behavior is the dominant factor in the spread of the virus, and the fact that it happened when the weather got colder and in the midst of the holidays when people gathered is not a coincidence.”