Studies Say COVID-19 Most Likely to Mutate- What That Means For A Vaccine?
4New studies suggest that the new mutated version of COVID-19 could be more infectious
It has been suggested by a new study from the Scripps Research Institute in Florida that the new coronavirus has mutated into a more infectious and deadly variant. This new mutation has been named “D614G” and it supposedly occurred on the spike protein which is that part of the virus which enables it to bind and fuse with human cells. This mutation makes it easier for the virus to infect the cells.
5Earlier studies had also identified this mutation
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory announced in March, that they had detected the D614G mutation. This new mutated variant was likely responsible for most of the infections that were reported from the USA and Europe.
A total of 14 strains of SARS-CoV-2 were identified by researchers who reported their findings to help those working on a vaccine or treatment for the virus. But, laboratory settings have concluded that the newly identified dominant strain is somehow more infectious. Scientists are now studying how the variation behaves in the body.
6It’s not clear if the mutation causes more severe illness or increases the risk of death
It hasn’t been confirmed if the new variant infects and sickens people differently or increases the risk of death because the rates of illness and hospitalization has not changed too much.
To understand the implications of the new mutations, more data is needed. This is necessary to determine whether these changes could affect the treatments and vaccines in developments and if re-infections are possible after recovery.
7The mutations are not making the virus deadlier
Even with its current mutations, the virus doesn’t seem to be any more infectious or fatal than its original strain which appeared in Wuhan, China. The chances of a virus mutating into a more aggressive version is rare. In fact, RNA viruses are more likely to mutate into a weaker version.
Dr. Benajamin Neuman, head of the biology department at Texas A&M University- Texarkana said: “Nearly all mutations will make some part of the virus work less well than before. The most common thing is for mutations to appear and die out again quickly”. The characteristic traits of the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 aren’t very different from that of its mutated version.