Scientists have identified a coronavirus mutation that has become dominant worldwide.
The new strain appeared in February in Europe, migrated quickly to the East Coast of the United States.
The coronavirus mutation report
The research has been based on the genetic sequence of earlier strains and might not be effective against the new one.
Scientists working on a vaccine or drugs to attack the coronavirus hope that the virus is stable and not likely to mutate. Therefore, it would not require a new vaccine every year.
Furthermore, the mutation affects the infamous spikes on the exterior of the virus, allowing it to enter human respiratory cells.
The Los Alamos study does not indicate that the new virus version is more lethal than the original. People infected with the mutated strain appear to have higher viral loads.
Additionally, 14 mutation are present.
Study leader, Bette Korber said the mutated form is rapidly emerging and becoming the dominant pandemic form.
The report warned that due to the faster spread, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease.
Charles Brenner, a biochemistry professor, noted that the study did not show the coronavirus mutation makes people sicker. More of the virus is present in sick people and replicates better.
Moreover, the new strain of virus is most likely usable for vaccine generation.
If the pandemic fails to wane seasonally as the weather warms, the coronavirus mutation could intensify. Without getting on the top of the risk now, the effectiveness of the vaccine could be limited.
If it were designed based on the original version of the virus, they might not be effective against the new coronavirus strain.
In the United States, doctors had begun to independently question whether new strains of the virus could account for the differences in how it has infected, sickened and killed people.
The study’s authors found that hospitalization rates were about the same for people infected with either virus version.
It is an issue for people who have immunity to coronavirus would not be immune to the new version. If that is the case, individuals can be suscetible to a seconf infection.
Peter Pitts said the emergence of a mutation is not surprising, but it does increase the urgency to protect the public through social isolation and other measures.