COVID Clinic testing
COVID Clinic, an Orange County startup, offers COVID-19 testing in downtown San Diego. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

A new variant that has caused a surge of COVID-19 cases in India over the last few months has been identified in California and experts say it is only a matter of time before it makes its way to San Diego. 

The Omicron sub-lineage, BA.2.75, was identified in Los Angeles County according to health officials during a press conference earlier this month, following several weeks of rapid spread across India after emerging in late May. 

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The first traces of the variant found in California were identified in the Bay Area using samples from mid-June. This strain of coronavirus is currently being monitored by the World Health Organization.

While BA.2.75 has not yet been detected in San Diego, experts predict that the variant’s presence could be identified in the county’s viral load by the end of the month, particularly given high levels of activity between the two areas with minimal mitigation strategies in place.

“People like to get together in the summer in San Diego and the virus is more infectious than all the other variants before,” said Dr. David Smith, chief of infectious diseases and global public health at UC San Diego. “These variants are the most infectious, so it doesn’t take many people together to sort of get the spread going.” 

This comes as San Diego County is grappling with the newest surge in COVID-19 cases caused by different strains of the Omicron variant, BA.4 and BA.5, which pushed the county into the “high-risk” tier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community transmission tracking system.

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