Los Angeles International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the U.S., seems to be the center for a COVID variant that is spreading rapidly across the landscape. The mutation was first discovered last summer, according to research from Cedars-Sinai. It resurfaced in cases again in October but it didn’t begin really spreading until November and December as cases of COVID surged. Holiday travel is widely seen as the culprit in the spread.
“While air traffic across the U.S. has plummeted in the last year during the pandemic, about 2 million domestic and international passengers still traveled through LAX each month in November and December 2020,” according to Cedars-Sinai.
It’s not yet known if any of the West Coast variants are more deadly, more infectious or more resistant to vaccines than other variants, according to Dr. John Swartzberg, a professor of infectious disease and vaccinology at University of California at Berkeley.
“Those two [West Coast] variants, we don’t have as much information about and we really need that,” Swartzberg said. “There’s no evidence that suggests that they would be resistant to our current vaccines…but we don’t have a lot of solid data yet even about that.”
CAL.20C is comprised of five recurring mutations, including the L452R variant that has been identified by the state’s health department. It is different from the United Kingdom’s B.1.1.7 variant and the South African variant, B.1.251 — both of which are highly transmissible.