New COVID-19 Mutation Spreads Faster

A new study published in the journal Cell reveals that there is another type of COVID-19 virus that is different from the one that originated in Wuhan, China. The original strain that started in China is named D614 and the dominant strain that possibly mutated from this is known as the G614. The newer strain has been found to be more infectious and aggressive in bringing people down, but it does not necessarily make anyone sicker, CNN reports.

The international team of researchers who worked on the study stated that the dominant G614 strain has infected more people around the world than the original one and that it is possible that the strain of the virus keeps mutating into something else. According to genetic sequences of the virus done with samples from humans, animals, and living cells, researchers found that the strain of the new virus is fitter and more aggressive, said Bette Korber, a theoretical biologist with the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“Our global tracking data show that the G614 variant in Spike has spread faster than D614,” Korber stated. “We interpret this to mean that the virus is likely to be more infectious. Interestingly, we did not find evidence of G614 impact on disease severity. The current work suggests that while the G614 variant may be more infectious, it is not more pathogenic.”

According to the researchers, the G614 strain was very rare outside of Europe before March 1, 2020, but after that date, the strain has covered the entire globe and even taken over where the original D614 strain was prevalent. The D614 strain however remains in charge in Iceland and in Santa Clara, California. Scientists attribute its dominance to its tendency to multiply faster in the upper respiratory tract which includes the nose, sinuses, and throat from where it could spread to others when people talk or sneeze.

“These findings suggest that the newer form of the virus may be even more readily transmitted than the original form,” Korber disclosed. “Whether or not that conclusion is ultimately confirmed, it highlights the value of what were already good ideas: to wear masks and to maintain social distancing.”

Further investigations revealed that the newer G614 strain can be neutralized with antibodies taken from the blood of former patients who recovered from coronavirus. Researchers even found that the blood serum “was in fact a little better” at neutralizing the virus than any other treatments at the moment.

And while scientists look forward to other mutations of the virus as well as effective vaccines, they warn that the health community must remain vigilant so that any new mutations do not get more infectious or deadlier.