Covid-19 mutation: Scientists believe the virus has mutated into a more contagious form
An American scientific study raises the possibility that the covid-19 facing the world has mutated since its appearance in China, in a more contagious version.
The problem of the covid-19 mutation is central to the search for an effective treatment and vaccine. According to a group of scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, administered by the University of California, the virus as we know it today may be different from the virus that hit China at the start of the pandemic. According to the 33-page study, the new coronavirus may have mutated into a more contagious form, reports the "Los Angeles Times." This report, written with scientists from Duke University and the University of Sheffield, England, is based on the analysis of more than 6,000 coronavirus sequences collected worldwide. In total, the researchers discovered 14 different mutations. Among them, one mutation, D614G, appears to be the most dominant. It appeared in Europe in February (Italy had observed that the Italian version of the virus was different from the Chinese version) and then crossed world borders.
The lab explains that in late March, it was this modified version of covid-19 that dominated the world. "It is concerning because we are seeing a form of the virus that mutates very rapidly and emerged in March to become the dominant form of the pandemic." When viruses with a mutation enter the population, they quickly replace the local form of the epidemic and become more contagious, "Bette Korber, study manager, wrote on her Facebook page. The Los Angeles Times reports that the study has not yet It has been peer-reviewed and confirmed, however, scientists believe it was essential to make this information public, especially after researchers trying to find a treatment or a vaccine.
Professor Brenner, a biochemistry specialist at the University of Iowa, told the Los Angeles Times that it was important for these researchers to read this study to find a vaccine that takes these mutations into account. Reassuringly, the Los Alamos National Laboratory study does not report a higher death rate with this version of the virus. On the other hand, this form is more contagious, faster. People infected with the mutated strain appear to have higher viral loads. "The frequency of D614G is increasing at an alarming rate, indicating an advantage over the original Wuhan strain and allowing for faster spread," the laboratory said.
Much speculation is regularly raised about the possibility of a virus mutation, or about various forms of the virus. In a study published on March 3 and conducted by researchers from the Beijing University of Sciences and the Shanghai Institut Pasteur, a more aggressive form of the new coronavirus accounted for about 70% of the strains tested, while 30% was related with a less aggressive guy. It is also the most aggressive strain that would have affected Wuhan at the start of the pandemic. For their part, US researchers raise the possibility that the virus may affect the United States in two different ways, between the particularly affected East Coast and the now saved West Coast.
"Even if the new strain is not more dangerous than the others, it could still complicate efforts to contain the pandemic." It would be a problem if the mutation made the virus so different from previous strains that those affected would not be immune to the new version, "writes the Los Angeles Times. The study says it would make people vulnerable to the" second contamination".