Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition Segments

Case Of India COVID Variant Discovered In San Diego

 May 5, 2021 at 10:16 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The first case of the COVID virus variant that has led to a major outbreak in India has been detected in San Diego, San Diego public health director. Dr. Wilma Wooten says a case of the B one six one seven variant was found in a woman who returned to San Diego from India in March because of the lag time between a positive test and viral sequencing. The variant was not detected until last week. Dr. Wooten also told members of the San Diego County board of supervisors that despite continued lower rates of COVID transmission in San Diego and across California, the state ordered COVID-19 emergency status is expected to continue through the end of the year. And joining me is San Diego union Tribune health reporter, Paul Sesson and Paul, welcome back. Thanks for having me. Did we learn any of the details about how the India variant may have spread in San Diego? Speaker 2: 00:58 We are a little in the dark on that. We know that this, uh, this person, uh, traveled to India, as you said, and, and returned. Uh, I asked yesterday for more information on who she was in contact with after she returned and, and specifically how many people she was in contact with that's, as we've learned the kind of the critical information the County said that, you know, we did our normal contact tracing process with this person, but we are not disclosing how many close contacts she had. So we're a little, uh, as the public, we're a little in the dark on exactly how this one case may have contacted others, Speaker 1: 01:36 Did the woman who had the variant display symptoms. Speaker 2: 01:40 We know that, uh, she was hospitalized. Uh, we don't know for how long we don't know if she's still hospitalized. So, you know, this is, this is a possibility that this person, uh, could have initially, uh, come up after being tested for another reason, as you said, it takes a few weeks for them to do the viral sequencing, uh, genetic analysis. It's necessary to tell whether a one variant or another is involved. Speaker 1: 02:06 Do doctors think this variant is more easily spread or more dangerous? Speaker 2: 02:12 They suspect that it may be more easily spread. Uh, they suspect that it also may have some resistance to the antibodies that are generated by the various vaccines that are, uh, now in use all over the world. Uh, from what I could tell the studies are still too small and, uh, not, not quite real world enough to really say anything conclusive, but they have noted that several of the, uh, subtypes of this variant do carry mutations that give those kinds of concerns and other variants like, like the one from South Africa and the one from Brazil Speaker 1: 02:50 Now, Dr. Wooten also talked about other COVID variants being found in San Diego. Can you give us an overview of what she had to say about that? Yeah, that's right. Uh, Speaker 2: 03:00 You know, the, the [inaudible] variant for spotted in the UK, uh, remains by far the most prevalent in San Diego and across the nation. Uh, the CDC estimates that about 60% of, uh, the virus that's currently circulating is one, one seven. We we've also, uh, you know, we've got two different California variants that have, uh, that have mutated and spread in California. I think that's the second most prevalent, uh, type that's out there right now. Uh, and then, uh, Dr. Root mentioned yesterday that last week they also picked up a case of what's been known as the New York variant. Uh, it it's, uh, most prevalent in New York and it is kind of gradually spread. Um, and then, uh, there's a P one variant out of Brazil. I think she said we're up to about 70 cases. Uh, so, so that variant has grown somewhat, uh, but still is, uh, dwarfed by one, one seven. Speaker 1: 03:58 And you said that the current COVID vaccines have been found pretty much effective against these variants, is that right? Speaker 2: 04:05 That's right. Um, the New York variant, it seems like there's some, some pretty good, uh, information to indicate that it is well covered by the vaccines that are in use in America. And one, one seven appears also to be well covered. You know, it's a little less clear, uh, with, uh, with 16, 17 out of India. Uh, again, that's a, there hasn't been quite as much research done yet, so, so it's a little foggy there, but they suspect that, that they get some reaction to the vaccine. Speaker 1: 04:35 The threat posed by the variants are COVID cases still going down in San Diego. Speaker 2: 04:41 Um, you know, we, we see a kind of a steady state, I'd say, you know, we've seen some, some tip down around the 150, 130 case per day, uh, rate coming in and then a, a little, a little uptick, uh, up toward closer to 200 cases per day. But I think we've been under 200 cases per day for quite a while now. Uh, you know, it's sure a heck of a lot better than it was when we were consistently over a thousand cases per day. And there was a period, uh, uh, in late December and early January, uh, where we were over 3000 cases per day. Speaker 1: 05:18 And is that this the same situation across the state? Are we seeing the numbers consistently kind of fall? Speaker 2: 05:26 Yeah, we really are in most places. Uh, we we've seen this a relatively steep fall off after, after the big surge in January, you know, there's still virus out there and cases are coming in every day. People are getting hospitalized every day, a smaller number, but still a number of people are dying every day. It's not showing any signs of, of jumping up, like, like they thought it might. Speaker 1: 05:50 Now, Dr. Wooten said that she's been informed by the state that even though California's COVID statistics continue to improve the COVID-19 emergency status will probably last through the year. What does that mean? Speaker 2: 06:04 Yeah, that's a good point, right? I mean, uh, the, the governor said a few weeks back that he intends. If, if hospitalization rates, uh, continue to head down or remain steady, he intends to remove the current, uh, tiered blueprint, blueprint reopening system, uh, by June 15th. And that would allow businesses to widely reopened organizations to wildly reopened pretty much at full capacity. You know, that's really what I think most of the public cares about is being able to get back to a more, um, regular pattern of living, you know, but all of this, all of these, um, mandates that the governor have has created, uh, throughout the pandemic have been enabled by the fact that he's called an emergency declaration. And, um, you know, I've looked at the state code and it does allow him to keep that emergency status going until he feels like it's a time to, to cancel it. It appears that some of this has to do with federal funding that flows to places that are technically an emergencies. And Dr. Wooten kind of hinted at that yesterday in terms of, uh, the emergency being necessary. I think she said to, to, uh, support response efforts, including vaccination activity. Speaker 1: 07:26 Okay. Then I've been speaking with San Diego union Tribune health reporter, Paul Sisson, Paul, thank you very much.

Ways To Subscribe
The first case of the Covid virus variant that has led to a major outbreak in India has been detected in San Diego. Because of the lag time between a positive test and viral sequencing, the variant was not detected until last week.
KPBS Midday Edition Segments