Virus may have mutated to resist masks

Coronavirus may be mutating to easily infect more people, but not becoming deadlier, study finds

They were obtained from recovered Covid-19 patients in the earliest phase of the Houston pandemic and others from a recent wave of infections that is still ongoing.

Researchers also discovered that parts of the spike protein had several mutations, which could indicate the virus is changing to avoid the body's immune resistance.

Study author James Musser of Houston Methodist Hospital said that coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 are relatively stable as viruses go since they have a proofreading mechanism as they replicate.

The Houston study examined coronaviruses that caused two waves of COVID-19 in that city. Although it seems to be non-virulent, it has shown to increase the number of spike proteins on the surface of the virus. While this mutation has been linked with increased transmission and infectivity, as well as a higher virus load in the nasopharynx, which connects the nasal cavity with the throat, the mutation did not increase disease severity, researchers said. The study, however, concluded that the virus is not more potent. It found that the summer strain bore more viral particles, causing it to be more infectious.

Coronavirus update, symptoms: Is COVID-19 becoming more potent and contagious? Along with this, we need to pay more attention to the ways of controlling it.

It follows a United Kingdom study that found similar results, learning that D614G was rapidly expanding and had become the dominant strain in Europe before taking hold in the Americas and Australia.

Even if the D614G form of the virus is really more infectious than before, it likely doesn't change things on the ground.

The study, released on the MedRxiv preprint server, states that the mutation helps the virus to spread faster but does not make it more unsafe.

"It makes sense that it's the most frequent variant observed now, as it was already the dominant circulating variant in May", Rasmussen noted. The spike is helpful for the virus in infecting the host cells. But both scientists and journalists have to be careful about overhyping the implications of this research, which has to be replicated and ideally studied through experiments that can directly show the effects of a mutation. The influenza virus mutates constantly, which is why the makeup of the flu shot changes every year.

Now, US-based researchers have found out that a more contagious coronavirus strain is dominating, as per a Reuters report. Unfortunately, some media outlets took this quote and ran with it. Fox News' headline: "Coronavirus mutation emerges that may bypass mask-wearing, hand-washing protections".

As a rule, the more genetic diversity a virus has the more prepared it is to evolve away from future treatments and vaccines.



Other news