A variant first discovered in California in December is more contagious than earlier forms of the coronavirus, two new studies have shown, fueling concerns that emerging mutants like this one could hamper the sharp decline in cases over all in the state and perhaps elsewhere.
In one of the new studies, researchers found that the variant has spread rapidly in a San Francisco neighborhood in the past couple of months. The other report confirmed that the variant has surged across the state, and revealed that it produces twice as many viral particles inside a person’s body as other variants do. That study also hinted that the variant may be better than others at evading the immune system — and vaccines.
“I wish I had better news to give you — that this variant is not significant at all,” said Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist at the University of California, San Francisco. “But unfortunately, we just follow the science.”
Neither study has yet been published in a scientific…