Mutated Strain of Coronavirus is More Contagious, Researchers say

Mutated Strain of Coronavirus is More Contagious, Researchers say

New SARS-CoV-2 Strain That is Prevailing Worldwide is Spreading Faster

A new and more contagious strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has become dominant worldwide. A new study led by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory say that the mutated strain appeared first in Europe in early February and migrated to the East Coast in March.

The virus is not only more contagious but may bypass immunity to the first strain, as it appears to reinfect individuals after their first bout with coronavirus. The researchers call the mutant strain D614G.

The report’s authors said they were sharing their work before it was peer reviewed due to “an urgent need for an early warning” as nations begin to develop vaccines and therapies to combat the virus. Read the full study, “Spike mutation pipeline reveals the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2.”

Where ever the strain has appeared it has infected far more people than earlier strains of the virus. Among other concerns, the mutations, which were recorded in 14 of the nearly 30,000 base pairs of RNA making up the virus, demonstrate the virus may not be stable. Drugs designed to combat one version of the virus may not be effective against other strains, and any vaccines developed for coronavirus may need to be updated annually, as with influenza vaccines.

More mutations complicate the vaccine-development process and it was concerns over that issue that motivated the Los Alamos researchers to conduct the study in the first place.

Scientists at Duke University and University of Sheffield in England worked alongside the Los Alomos team in mapping the coronavirus.

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