COVID-19 Mutation Being Researched

COVID-19

Researchers in Florida believe they have discovered a new COVID-19 mutation that makes the ailment extremely contagious. They say they need to continue their investigations into the matter, however, this could explain how so many people were infected in the United States and the world over.

A New Covid-19 Mutation Is on the Horizon?

For several weeks, scientists have been concerned about the mutation. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida have described the effects the mutation has on human cells. According to them, the COVID-19 transformation affects the spike in protein. Scripps Research virologist Hyeryun Choe said, “Viruses with this mutation were much more infectious than those without the mutation in the cell culture system we used,” in a statement.

In a statement released by the World Health Organization (WHO), they say the mutations seen so far will not affect the vaccine effectiveness during the race against COVID-19. The WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan says that COVID-19, like most other viruses, will “keep on changing and we have to keep an eye on that.”

How Many COVID-19 Vaccines Are in Production?

At this time there are roughly 200 vaccine possibilities being developed all over the world. Ten of them are in the human trials stage. Four of the trials are being conducted in the U.S., five in China, and one in the United Kingdom. The WHO says they have 126 in preclinical trials all over the globe.

According to WHO, the disease may differ from place to place, “it’s not so different that the vaccine will not work.” Dr. Swaminathan continues with, “It’s also good to have vaccine trials in many different countries because you have different populations, different genetics, different risk factors and WHO very much would like to see the candidates that are being developed now being tested in many countries.”

Covid-19 Testing at Scripps Research Institution

Choe and his team of researchers ran a sequence of experiments in Petri dishes showing a mutation called D614G, which gives the virus many more spikes, making the spikes more stable. Their work has not been viewed by other experts in the field at this time however, the team did send their paper to virologist William Haseltine. Haseltine is also a biotechnology entrepreneur and chairman of Access Health International.

After reviewing the information Haseltine believes this could explain how COVID-19 has spread so easily. “It is significant because it shows the virus can change, does change to its advantage and possibly our disadvantage.” He continues to say that the virus has so far shown it can adapt to “human culture.”
All over the world scientists have been sharing the information they have obtained about COVID-19. The hope is to gather enough information about the virus so they can create a vaccine(s) to stop the spread.

The New Supreme Burden

Haseltine said that “Sometime in the middle of January,” COVID-19 mutated. “It doesn’t mean it’s more lethal. It makes it about 10 times more infectious.” According to Haseltine the research team from Scripps shows the mutation in three different experiments.

Studies show that D614G not only allows COVID-19 to attach to cells easily, it can also let them enter the cells more easily. When the virus infects a person, it will hijack the person’s cells, thus making them a walking COVID-19 factory. Once it infects one cell it quickly takes over the others.

The race to find a vaccine for COVID-19 continues as researchers watch to ensure the virus mutations do not take a deadly turn. As restrictions begin to ease all over the world scientists, WHO, and other authorities would like people to continue social distancing. Please continue to practice proper hygiene methods as this virus is still spreading. Just because some restrictions have lifted, does not mean the spread of COVID-19 has stopped. There is still a possibility the virus may get a second wind.

By Sheena Robertson

Sources:

CNN: June 12 coronavirus news
Yahoo!: Mutation in new coronavirus increases chance of infection: study
Daily Mail: Is this the mutation that made coronavirus spread like wildfire in NYC, Italy and the UK? D614G strain has four-times as many ‘spikes’ that latch onto human cells and is ’10 times more infectious’ than milder forms seen in California
CNN: Mutation could make coronavirus more infectious, study suggests

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Fernando Moital’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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