California’s Los Alamos National Laboratory announced that they have discovered that UK and California COVID variants have merged into a mutated strain.
The merging of the two strains was discovered in a virus sample in California and is currently being studied to determine if it would be more dangerous.
The new strain carries the UK B.1.1.7 mutation, which made the virus more transmissible, and the California variant B.1.429 which has antibody resistance.
It is unknown if the new strain inherited the characteristics of its parent strain or whether it would develop new ones.
“This kind of event could allow the virus to have coupled a more infectious virus with a more resistant virus,” warned Los Alamos Laboratory Scientist Bette Corber.
If confirmed to be an actual mutation, it would be the first recombinant to be detected in this pandemic.
Sergei Pond, a biology professor from Temple University, Pennsylvania said that there is no evidence yet of widespread recombination.
Pond said recombination is “a question of when not if” because it is a commonly observed phenomenon among coronaviruses.
Korber has only seen one recombinant genome among thousands of sequences and it isn’t clear whether the mutant virus has spread.