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'Double mutant' COVID-19 variant first discovered in India now found in the U.S.

The "double mutant" variant could be more infectious and make vaccines less effective, although that's still being studied.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It may sound like something out of a science fiction movie. A "double mutant" COVID-19 variant first discovered in India has made its way to the United States with 15 documented cases

We've heard of the UK and South African coronavirus variants. Now, there's a new, potentially more contagious one. 

“The Indian Health Ministry has termed this mutation they found, this variant they found ‘double mutant,’” Dr. Mohammed Reza said.

Dr. Mohammed Reza is an infectious disease specialist and said most variants have mutations, up to a dozen of them. What makes this new variant more concerning is the mutations are on the part of the virus that attach to cells, possibly making it easier for the virus to latch on. 

“We don’t know how these two mutations occurred in the same virus," Reza said. "It could be one person was infected with two different variants at the same time, and their offspring could have this mutant.”

Reza says this could make the "double mutant" variant more infectious and vaccines less effective, although that is still being studied.

“The variants are causing these antibodies not to work as well," Reza said. These antibodies can be produced through vaccines or we can give them to people as more of a treatment, so that’s where the concern is.”

You can take steps to protect yourself from this and other variants. Dr. Reza encourages you to wear your mask, social distance, get a vaccine, and continue to wash your hands.