Samples of L452R, a highly contagious “California variant” of COVID-19 have been detected by Oregon State University researchers in Lincoln City’s wastewater treatment plant.
First reported by OPB Friday, sewage sampling from wastewater plants in Albany, Forest Grove, Klamath Falls, Lincoln City, Silverton and the OSU campus detected the more contagious strain of COVID-19 using genetic sequencing.
The L452R variant has been around since last March but has recently been the cause of large outbreaks in California’s Santa Clara County and has spread throughout Southern California. Tests have shown COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against the variant.
The City of Lincoln City issued a news release Saturday, saying it has been participating in OSU’s TRACE project to sample wastewater from municipal systems for COVID-19 and its variants.
“Lincoln City hasn’t received the test results that identified this variant as reported by OPB,” Public Works Director Lila Bradley said. “City officials are in contact with OHA and OPB representatives to learn more about the testing results and will report their findings as quickly as possible.”
OSU’s Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing and co-principal investigator of TRACE Brett Tyler said: “We’re somewhat concerned about this strain, but it’s not as concerning as the U.K., South African and Brazilian strains, but we do want to keep a close eye on it.”
The sampling of virus shed via feces can be detected in sewage and depending where the testing is done, can tell researchers where the virus is coming from, such as schools, hospitals, neighborhoods and other facilities. This can potentially lead to effective monitoring of outbreaks.
Oregon Health Authority and OSU plan to increase their sewage sampling efforts to include every county in the state.