One variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus currently dominates the world, which differs from the one that first appeared in China at the end of last year. The researchers found that this alteration of the virus penetrates human cells more easily and is therefore probably more contagious than the original version.
According to AFP, a new study in a scientific journal claims this Cell, according to which, however, these results still need to be verified more thoroughly.
The coronavirus, like all other viruses, is constantly undergoing mutations. After SARS-CoV-2 spread from China to Europe, one of its variants, the scientists called D614G, became dominant there. It has a slight difference in the DNA from the original in the place that affects the ability of the virus to penetrate human cells.
Researchers track coronavirus genetic mutations around the world, record their genome and share them in a database GISAID, which now records about 58,000 different SARS-CoV-2 gene sequences.
Researchers at the universities of Sheffield and Duke University, together with staff from the Los Alamos laboratory, found in April that the D614G variant currently dominates the world and then realized with some concern that its specific mutations appear to make it more transmissible to humans. However, they still had to verify their findings.
They therefore analyzed data from 999 patients hospitalized in Britain with Covid-19 and found that people infected with the study variant had more viral particles in them. However, this did not reflect the severity of their disease, which was encouraging for scientists. Laboratory experiments then showed that D614G penetrates human cells with three to six times the efficiency of the original coronavirus variant found in China.
However, researchers warn that laboratory findings may not yet faithfully replicate the virus’s behavior in the real world and its spread through populations. From a strictly scientific point of view, it can only be said now that the D614G variant is more contagious, but that does not necessarily mean that it is really more widespread among people. Other unknown factors or ordinary coincidence may have played a role in its expansion.
However, Nathan Grubaugh of Yale University and colleagues in another article also noted that the virus variant currently dominates the pandemic. “It’s an interesting discovery that may affect millions of people, but for which we don’t yet know its ultimate impact. We discovered this virus half a year ago and we will find out many more things about it in the next six months, “he added.
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