How's this for a depressing lead?
A coronavirus variant that emerged in mid-2020 and surged to become the dominant strain in California not only spreads more readily than its predecessors, but also evades antibodies generated by COVID-19 vaccines or prior infection and it's associated with severe illness and death, researchers said.
The study comes from scientists at UC San Francisco, and the "The devil is already here" quote in the headline comes from Dr. Charles Chiu who led the UCSF team that analyzed the California variant. "I wish it were different," he told the LA Times "But the science is the science."
Chiu says the new strain will probably account for 90% of the infections in California by the end of the month.
The article has even more good news:
It also opens the door to a "nightmare scenario": That the two viruses will meet in a single person, swap their mutations, and create an even more dangerous strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The new evidence that the California variant could make people sicker, and vaccines less effective, should spur more intensive efforts to drive down infections, Chiu said. Those should include both public health measures, such as masking and limits on public activities, and a campaign of rapid vaccinations, he added.