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California has identified its first cases of a worrisome coronavirus variant that was first discovered in South Africa. The variant, known as B.1.351, was confirmed in the San Francisco Bay Area, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week.
Newsom during a news conference on Wednesday said that two cases were identified, one in Alameda County and the other in Santa Clara County, the Los Angeles Times reported.
No other details were provided at the time, and it was not immediately clear how the cases were identified, though other states that have announced cases of variants have done so through routine genome sequencing of positive coronavirus samples.
When Newsom announced the state’s first cases, they had only been identified “as of a few hours ago,” he said at the time, per the paper.
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A spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health did not immediately return Fox News’ request for additional information on Thursday.
So far, the variant has been detected in a handful of states, including South Carolina, the first state to report cases of the South African variant in the U.S., as well as Texas, Maryland and Virginia.
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The B.1.351 variant is more transmissible than the other coronavirus strains and is likely more virulent, meaning it could cause more severe illness in those who contract it.
Though experts have voiced confidence that recently-approved vaccines will remain effective against variants, the South African variant, in particular, has shown to diminish vaccine efficacy. While some drug sponsors are working to create variant booster shots, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is simultaneously drawing up plans to help guide newly adjusted vaccines, drugs and diagnostics toward faster regulatory approval.
Fox News’ Kayla Rivas contributed to this report.
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