Coronavirus has mutated into a new and more infectious virus.
An electron microscope image of the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19.
Image Credit: NIAID-RML via AP
A new global study is suggesting that the current coronavirus spread is now being caused by a new strain, which is more contagious, but does not seem to increase the mortality rate. This new strain called ‘D614G’, is ten times more infectious and is considered to be the most common strain. This virus strain seem to have spread from Europe to the United States.
Erica Ollman Saphire of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology and the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium was one of the researchers that worked on this study. She said, ‘ It is now the dominant form infecting people’.
‘This is now the virus’, she added.
This new strain has a small, but significant change in its spike proteins, making it easier to enter human cells.
Dr. Thushan De Silva, a senior clinical lecturer in Infectious Diseases at the University of Sheffield, said,
‘We have been sequencing SARS-CoV-2 strains in Sheffield since early in the pandemic and this allowed us to partner with out collaborators to show this mutation had become the dominant in circulating strains’.
He added, ‘The full peer-reviewed study published today confirms this, and also that the new D614G genome mutation variant is also more infectious under laboratory conditions’.
Data provided by our team in Sheffield suggested that the new strain was associated with higher viral loads in the upper respiratory tract of patients with Covid-19, meaning the virus’s ability to infect people could be increased’.
The researchers used the GISAID database to obtain viral data from around the world. This database contains thousands of viral sequences, allowing researchers to study the virus behavior around the world. According to the study, it is unlikely that the virus will have an impact on the vaccine efficacy, but it is important to adjust the vaccine design if need be.