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Second COVID-19 variant mutation found in Ventura County

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. -- The Ventura County Public Health Department said a second COVID-19 mutation was discovered in Ventura County Friday.

Public Health said the mutation was found in an Oxnard sewage study. The sample revealed the presence of a second mutation in a small sample of the COVID virus.

The mutation was identified as N501Y.

This mutation is currently present in both the United Kingdom and South African variants, public health officials said.

Oxnard has been testing samples of its wastewater on a weekly basis for a number of weeks.

The sewage plant where the mutation was found serves about 250,000 people. Public health says the mutation was present in only 0.283 percent of all the COVID virus present in the sample, while the other 99.2 percent was of the original COVID-19 virus.

“The presence of this mutation in such a small amount of the sample tells me that this virus is not widespread in our County yet,” said Dr. Robert Levin, Health Officer.

Currently at least 24 states in the nation have been documented to have the N501Y virus present. The first case was found in Colorado on Dec. 29 and in California for the first time on Dec. 30.

Public health officials say it is unclear whether this new virus is the UK variant or if it just shares some of its mutation.

The UK variant is said to have 17 different mutations in its genetic code, public health said.

"Eight of those mutations occur in a critical part of the virus, called the spike protein, which reaches out and binds to human cells during the initial stages of infection."

Levin said the presence of this variant comes with an increased transmissibility but not an increase in how deadly the virus is.

“The UK virus, which contains this mutation, is still prevented by the vaccines that are in use in our County,” said Dr. Levin. “While the presence of this mutation is concerning, it was to be expected, it can still be controlled by social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands and avoiding gatherings. Evidence of this is that while this virus is probably present throughout the United States, the numbers of COVID infections are decreasing over the last week.”

Ventura County reported 653 new coronavirus cases and 19 new deaths Friday. For a complete breakdown of coronavirus cases in Ventura County, click here.

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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Julia Nguyen


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