If the coronavirus mutates all the work that scientists have put in developing a vaccine could be for nothing as the vaccine would have been designed for the previous version of the virus, and not the newly mutated one.
At the moment, that doesn't seem like the case, but scientists have identified that the virus has mutated, and that it has mutated into a more infectious version of itself. According to a study that's awaiting peer-review and has been published in BioRxiv, researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory identified a new strain of COVID-19 that appeared back in February in Europe. The new strain then migrated to the East Coast and has now become the most dominant strain in the world.
The concerning part is that the scientists examined the genome of SARS-CoV-2 and found a mutation that directly affects the spike protein on the virus, which is the part of the virus that hijacks host cells for replication. The study examined more than 6,000 SARS-CoV-2 gene sequences from different parts of the world and found that this newly mutated version of the virus was becoming more and more dominant. The scientists identified 14 separate mutations, one in particular, D614G was the most concerning.
Here's what the study said, "D614G is increasing in frequency at an alarming rate, indicating a fitness advantage relative to the original Wuhan strain that enables more rapid spread".
Since this new strain has infected far more people than previous strains, the study says that it can be labeled as more infectious, but the scientists don't know why that is.
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