A latest study by experts at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, US, states that the new coronavirus may have mutated, therefore more infectious. The study which was published by the institute on Friday states, “Covid-19-causing viral variant taking over in the United States and Europe now carries more functional, cell-binding spikes.”
Laboratory experiments performed at the institute revealed that a tiny genetic mutation in the SARS coronavirus 2 variant circulating throughout Europe and the United States significantly increases the virus’ ability to infect cells.
“Viruses with this mutation were much more infectious than those without the mutation in the cell culture system we used,” Scripps Research virologist Hyeryun Choe, PhD and senior author of the study said.
There has been much debate about why Covid-19 outbreaks in some parts of the world quickly overwhelmed health systems, while at other locations the outbreak could be readily managed.
“Was it something about those communities and their response, or had the virus somehow changed?”
The study explained how all viruses mutate and change to some degree but those changes “rarely impact fitness or ability to compete”.
The significant change with respect to SARS-CoV-2 variant was the presence of D614G mutation which was absent in the earliest regional outbreaks.
The experts, however, have called for more research, concluding that the Covid-19 virus may have ultimately figured out how to be more stable and not fall apart.
“Over time, it has figured out how to hold on better and not fall apart until it needs to,” co-author Michael Farzan, PhD, co-chairman of the Scripps Research Department of Immunology and Microbiology said. “The virus has, under selection pressure, made itself more stable,” he added.