And again, alarming news about COVID-19: scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which became dominant in the world and apparently is more contagious than previous strains that circulated in the early days of the pandemic. This is the conclusion reached by the authors of a new study from Los Alamos National laboratory (USA). The paper argues that the new strain appeared in February in Europe, quickly migrated to the East coast and mid-March became the dominant strain worldwide. In addition to the more rapid spread of the new strain can make people vulnerable to re-infection.
The dominance of the new strain over its predecessors suggests that it is more contagious,exactly why is still unknown. At the time of writing this article, the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, causing COVID-19, has infected more than 3.5 million people worldwide and caused more than 250,000 deaths.
As mutated coronavirus
33-page paper was published on the Preprint server BioRxiv and has not yet passed peer review. The mutation, referred to in the study, affect the crown spikes of the virus, which he so skillfully uses to penetrate into the respiratory system of a person. As the authors write, they feel the “urgent need for early warning” to vaccines and drugs developed worldwide were effective against the mutated strain.
The researchers also warn that if the coronavirus dies in the summer, as seasonal flu, it could mutate further potentially limits the effectiveness of the developed vaccines. Let me remind you that the new strain of coronavirus began to spread in Europe in early February, before to migrate to other parts of the world, including the United States and Canada, becoming the dominant form of the virus worldwide by the end of March.
It is a heavy news. But please, do not worry. Our team at LANL was able to document the mutation and its impact on transmission only thanks to the huge efforts of scientists around the world.
Bette Korber, biologist at Los Alamos and lead author of the study on the page in Facebook, according to CNBC.
Despite the lack of peer review (peer review), experts note that the news about the mutations cause “serious concern”, given that in early may, more than 100 vaccines worldwide are under development. Let me remind you that in early March, researchers from China reported two new mutations in SARS-CoV-2, and recently became aware of more than 30 mutant strains of the novel coronavirus. Read more read our material.
Strain is a pure culture of bacteria, viruses, other microorganisms. Strain is also called a cell culture, isolated in time and in a certain place.
In a study published March 3, scientists from the School of natural Sciences of Peking University and Shanghai Pasteur Institute found that the more aggressive new strain of coronavirus was approximately 70% of all analyzed strains, whereas 30% were associated with a less aggressive type of coronavirus. More aggressive and deadly strain was discovered in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan Chinese city, where it is believed that the virus first appeared.
Researchers from Los Alamos by scientists from Duke University and the University of Sheffield in England were able to analyze thousands of sequences of coronaviruses are collected in GISAID – organization that promotes rapid exchange of data on all flu viruses and coronavirus. If the pandemic continues, the coronavirus is likely to continue to mutate, scientists say.
Why is it important to track the mutations?
Most of the developed vaccines is focused on thorn, a protein, a multifunctional mechanism that allows the virus to enter the host organism, carefully breaking the cells. Most vaccines and reagents for viral testing is based on the sequence of the genome of the original virus strain from Wuhan. However, the current study aims at identifying variations of the viral genome in real time.