A new mutation in the genome of the novel coronavirus strengthens the spikes on the outer layer of the virus, making it a lot likely to latch onto a potential host.
About The Mutation
A significant genetical mutation in the genome of COVID-19 considerably increases the virus’s ability to infect cells, says lab experiments done by Scripps Research.
Coronaviruses are named after the spikes develop on the outer layer, giving them a crown-like look and granting them the capacity to bind to and infect host cells.
The study carried by Scripps revealed that the new mutation in the virus’s genome drastically increases the number of spikes, which results in an easier ability of infection.
Scripps Research virologist Hyeryun Choe, the senior author of the study, said:
“Viruses with this mutation were much more infectious than those without the mutation in the cell culture system we used.”
“The number – or density – of functional spikes on the virus is four or five times greater due to this mutation,” she added.
In an ulterior reported, she and her colleagues revealed that the mutation, known as D614G, is responsible for the rapid outbreak of the disease in heavily-affected regions like New York and Italy.
How Mutations Happen
Mutations in the genomes of viruses happen over time, after multiple cycles of spreading and reproduction.
Typically, mutations don’t affect the virus’s performance. However, some mutations make it more dangerous, and that is exactly the case with the D614G mutation, which did not exist in the early stages of the pandemic.
The bad news is that the new mutation might be the dominant strain worldwide, as more than a dozen scientific papers talk about its predominance worldwide, Michael Farzan, a co-author, said.
Unfortunately, there is no way of stopping the virus from evolving.