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First confirmed case of Indian coronavirus variant in U.S. found in California

The strain was first detected last month by health officials in India.
Image: A young woman is vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at SZentrum on March 11, 2021 in Schwaz, Austria.
A young woman is vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at SZentrum on March 11 in Austria.Jan Hetfleisch / Getty Images file

LOS ANGELES — Researchers at Stanford University said Saturday that they had found at least one case of a new coronavirus variant first detected in India in Northern California.

The new variant has two mutations, including one found in the California strain, in the spiky protein that the virus latches onto, according to Stanford Health Care spokesperson Lisa Kim. The variant was found in a patient from the San Francisco Bay Area by the school's Clinical Virology Laboratory.

"We believe this is the first described case with this variant in the United States," she said in an emailed statement.

The variant was first detected last month by Indian health officials, The Associated Press reported. Cases in India had been decreasing across the country since September but started to creep back up through the winter. More than 47,000 new infections were detected in a 24-hour span, including 275 deaths, in March, according to the AP.

Covid-19 rates have been decreasing across California this spring following a deadly winter surge that started in late November and didn't ease up until after the new year. The drop in cases has allowed some of the state's most populous counties, including Los Angeles, to begin relaxing restrictions and gradually reopen the economy.

California has recorded more coronavirus cases than any state in the country, with over 3.5 million known infections and at least 58,000 deaths as of Saturday, according to the department of health.