Coronavirus is mutating with an effect on its transmission, a new study finds

Scientists have determined that coronavirus is mutating and having an impact on the way it is spreading in different parts of the world.

The global spread of the coronavirus has now already infected more than 3.9 million people and caused over 271,00 deaths.

Research on coronavirus has also picked up the pace and scientists are now gaining new insights about the virus. One such research is on how the coronavirus is mutating and its impact on the overall spread across the world.

How coronavirus is mutating

A comparison between the coronavirus and influenza is shedding light on how rampant it is mutating. The flu is able to mutate at a rate of about 50 times per year, however, scientists studying coronavirus have indicated that the rate of mutation of the virus is about half that of the flu with around 25 mutations.

For scientists developing a vaccine and studying the virus mutations, this is actually good news. The development of the flu virus has to be adjusted and updated every year in order to be able to remain ahead of the curve in beating the flu.

Two new studies from the Arizona State University and Los Alamos National Laboratory have shown how the virus is evolving.

ORF7a gene mutation

The Arizona State University study was able to show there was a massive deletion of 81-base pairs in the ORF7a gene after analyzing the SARS-CoV-2 genomes. The ORF7a gene is responsible for producing proteins useful in coronavirus and that helps it evade the immune system of its host.

The deletion of such a massive number of base pairs may be good news to scientists as it weakens the virus’s ability to replicate and spread in the body. The study also found that the mutation mirrored the 2003 SAR outbreak mutation.

D614G mutation

The second study focused on the mutations related to the spikes on the virus surface. The study was able to find about 14 mutations that this virus had undergone. The most interesting one, according to the scientists, was the mutation spike D614G.

The study found the mutation originated in Europe. However, when this mutation was introduced to other regions, it quickly became the dominant gene. This showed that the mutation had a great impact on the spread of coronavirus and may explain why the virus is becoming more contagious now.

Studying these mutations has shown that they have changed the way these viruses are spreading across the globe. The transmission rates for some mutations have increased, while the majority of the mutations have had no impact at all to the spread of the virus. There have also been some mutations that are curbing the spread of the virus by weakening them.

 

Featured image by Pixabay