By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A new coronavirus strain which has been found in about one-third of all coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County since December could be partly responsible for L.A.’s COVID-19 surge, medical researchers announced Monday.

Motorists wait in line at the Southside Church of Christ in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, 2021, for coronavirus antibody and PCR tests. (Getty Images)

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The strain, known as CAL.20C, is different from the B.1.1.7 strain which emerged in the U.K. this past September, according to a report released Monday by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The strain was “almost nonexistent” in October, Cedars-Sinai said in a news release. However, by December, researchers found that 36.4% of all cases in the L.A. area were this CAL.20C strain.

Researchers believe it could be responsible for the spike in cases over the past two months. However, the study did not determine if this strain is more contagious or deadlier than other forms of the coronavirus,

“The recent surge in COVID-19 positive cases in Southern California coincides with the emergence of CAL.20C,” Dr. Eric Vail, a co-author of the study, said in a statement.

Currently, there’s also no reason to believe that the new strain makes the vaccine less effective, Vail said.

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Cedars-Sinai researchers examined samples in 192 coronavirus patients between Nov. 22 and Dec. 28 using genetic technology to identify the strain.

CAL.20C includes a virus variant that the California Department of Public Health reported Sunday thanks to Cedars-Sinai’s research.

“This variant, dubbed L452R, is one of five recurring mutations that constitute the CAL.20C strain, which is propagating across the country, starting in Los Angeles,” Cedars-Sinai said.

L.A. County has become the nation’s epicenter of coronavirus case activity. As of Monday, L.A. County has reported 1,024,190 cases and 13,936 deaths from the disease.

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There were at least 7,328 coronavirus patients hospitalized Monday in L.A. County, 23% of whom were being treated in intensive care units.