COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire across the United States, and now we are hearing reports about health authorities identifying new strains of COVID-19.
Reports have indicated that there are several states that have found new strains of COVID-19, and while this may be surprising to the general public, it isn't surprising for researchers. So, why is the virus mutating into these different strains? According to researchers, the virus is mutating because of its unchecked transmission throughout the country.
Ben Bimber, a research professor at Oregon Health and Science University, said, "The only way to [stop emergence of new variants] is to stop the spread of the virus." Additionally, Bimber said that every time that the virus replicates, "it's an opportunity to mutate, if there's more people infected, there's simply more virus out there and it has more opportunities to mutate." So, how does it actually work?
When the virus enters cells, it makes copies of itself, and every time it makes copies of itself, there is a chance that an error will occur in the copy process. This 'error' is the mutation. Bimber said, "Every time the virus copies itself, there's a chance to introduce errors. If the virus is replicating in people, it will slowly accumulate mutations."
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