Media organizations reported Wednesday (February 17) that the homegrown COVID-19 variant sweeping California has combined with the highly-contagious UK variant.
The result is yet another mutation, a hybrid virus.
This has started to spark fears that the new resulting virus will be more contagious.
A sample from California showed a recombination of the B117 strain first detected in the UK and the California B1429 one being blamed on a surge in cases in Los Angeles.
It was discovered by Bette Korber at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
Such recombination of variants is feared because it can create even more dangerous variants.
Reports describe the combination of the two variants as an “anomaly”.
Researchers in New Mexico believed it is the first recorded “recombination event” of the COVID-19 pandemic between a variant of SARS-CoV-2 that originated in the UK and another from California.
It’s unclear how much of a threat the new recombinant could be as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The pandemic has already infected nearly 110 million people worldwide.
The combination of the more transmissible B117 variant from the UK with the B1429 variant from California, which is reportedly able to resist some antibodies, is worrisome to epidemiologists.
With the emergence of more variants of the novel coronavirus, recombination may pose a bigger threat since it can occur when someone is exposed to two different strains at once.
There are a variety of factors that impact the transmissibility of a virus.
These include human behaviour, population structure and immunity levels.
As of February 17, Canada has a total of 834,182 recorded cases of COVID-19.
In the last seven days, 20, 200 new cases were reported, and 431 deaths were reported in that time period.
Canada has a total of 779,761 recovery cases. A total of 21,435 deaths have been recorded in the country.
In B.C., provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix reported on February 17 a total of 427 new cases.
This brings the number of cases in B.C. to a total of 74,710.
There are 4,150 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., as of February 17.
There are 232 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 63 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people with COVID-19 are recovering at home in self-isolation.
Currently, 7,238 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 69,167 people who tested positive have recovered.
To date, 176,015 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 26,030 of which are second doses.
There have been three new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,317 deaths in British Columbia, as of February 17.
In the Philippines, the total number of COVID-19 cases reached 553,424 on February 17 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,184 newly confirmed infections.
However, it does not include data from three laboratories that failed to submit results on time.
This is the lowest daily tally in nearly three weeks and the fifth straight day that additional COVID-19 cases counted fewer than 2,000.
The DOH also reported 271 additional recovered patients, bringing the total number of recoveries to 512,033, or 92.5 percent of the total cases.
The death toll rose by 53 on February 17, bringing the Philippines’ total to 11,577.
Of the 29,814 active cases, 85.4 perent have mild symptoms, 8.5 percent are asymptomatic, 2.6 percent are in critical condition, 2.6 percent have severe symptoms, and 0.83 percent have moderate symptoms.
The Philippines expects the arrival of its initial supply of COVID-19 vaccines this February, to be administered first to health workers.
The Philippines confirmed its first COVID-19 case on January 30, 2020, involving a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.