According to a new study conducted by researchers from the Los Alamos national laboratory, a new strain of coronavirus was dominant all over the world and apparently is more contagious than the versions that were distributed in the first days of the pandemic COVID-19. This writes SFGate.
The scientists write that the new strain appeared in February in Europe, quickly migrated to the East coast of the United States and was the dominant strain worldwide since mid-March.
The report notes that in addition to the more rapid spread of it can make people vulnerable to repeated infection.
The 33-page report was published on BioRxiv, a web site that researchers use to share your work before it is subjected to expert evaluation, with the aim of accelerating cooperation with scientists working on vaccines or drugs COVID-19. This study was largely based on genetic sequences from earlier strains and may be ineffective against the new.
The mutation, identified in a new report, affects the now infamous outbursts of coronavirus that allow it to penetrate into the respiratory human cells. The report’s authors stated that they feel “the urgent need for early warning” to vaccines and drugs developed worldwide were effective against the mutated strain.
Wherever there is a new strain, it quickly infected more people than earlier strains that have emerged in China, and within a few weeks, according to the report, it was the only strain is common in some countries. The dominance of the new strain on its predecessors suggests that it is more contagious, although the explanation for this yet.
The coronavirus, known to scientists as SARS-CoV-2, has infected more than 3.5 million people worldwide and caused more than 250,000 deaths since its discovery in late 2019.
The report was based on computational analysis of more than 6000 sequences of coronaviruses from all over the world, collected by the Global initiative on sharing all influenza data, a private-public organization in Germany.
The team from Los Alamos with the support of scientists from Duke University and the University of Sheffield in England has identified 14 mutations. These mutations occurred among nearly 30 000 base pairs in RNA, which, according to other scientists, make up the genome of the coronavirus. The report’s authors focused on a mutation called D614G, which is responsible for changing the outbreaks.
“This story is troubling because we see that the mutated form of the virus very quickly appears and becomes the dominant form — wrote on his page in Facebook the head of research Bette Korber, a computational biologist from Los Alamos. — When the virus with this mutation enters a community, he quickly begins to create a local epidemic, so it is more contagious.”
“It’s heavy news, wrote Corbera — but, please, do not be discouraged. Our team at LANL was able to document the mutation and its impact on the transmission but thanks to the enormous global efforts of scientists and experimental groups who study the virus.”
The Corbera, a graduate of Cal State Long Beach, who received his doctorate in chemistry at Caltech, joined the laboratory in 1990 and has focused much of its work on the HIV vaccine. In 2004, she won the Ernest Orlando Lawrence, the highest recognition the U.S. Department of energy for scientific achievements. It made part of the financial award for the creation of a shelter for young victims of AIDS in South Africa.
The report provides regional data on when first appeared a new strain of the virus, and how much time is needed to become dominant.
Italy was one of the first countries where the new virus came on the last week of February, almost simultaneously with the appearance of the original strain. Washington was one of the first States, faced with the original strain in late February, but by March 15, a mutated strain already dominated. The original virus appeared in new York about March 15, a few days later “took possession” of the mutant strain.
Scientists from major organizations working on a vaccine or drugs, said that pinning their hopes on initial evidence that the virus is stable and unlikely to mutate as it makes the flu virus, requiring a new vaccine every year. Report scientists from Los Alamos can refute this assumption.
The study says that the virus can undergo further mutations, even when the research organizations will produce the first drugs and vaccines. Risk currently, the effectiveness of the vaccine may be limited. The authors of the study warned if the vaccine will be developed based on the original version of the virus, they can be ineffective against the new strain.
“We can’t afford to remain stuck, because the input phase trials of vaccines and antibody — wrote Corbera in Facebook. — Please be of good cheer, knowing that the global scientific community engaged in this, and we cooperate with each other as I have never seen in 30 years as a scientist”.
David Montefiore, a scientist from Duke University who worked on the report, said he first noticed the mutation in the coronavirus, which seems to make it more contagious.
Although researchers do not yet know the details of how the mutated virus behaves inside the body, he is clearly doing something that gives him an evolutionary advantage over its predecessor and contributes to its rapid spread. One scientist called it “a classic case of Darwinian evolution”.
“Frequency D614G is increasing at an alarming rate, indicating an advantage in comparison with the original strain in Wuhan, which provides a more rapid distribution,” the study says.
It is still unknown whether this mutant virus to explain regional differences in how much COVID-19 affects different parts of the world.
In the United States, doctors began to study the issues of whether new virus strains to explain the differences in the means of infection and death of people, says Alan Wu, a Professor at the University of California in San Francisco, who directs the laboratories of clinical chemistry and toxicology.
Medical experts in recent weeks have suggested that they found at least two strains of the virus in the United States, one of which is distributed on the East coast and the other on the West, according to Wu.
“We are trying to determine the mutation,” he said, noting that his hospital only had a few deaths of hundreds of cases that he treated, “this is a very different picture than we see in new York.”
A study at Los Alamos indicates that the new version of the virus is more deadly than the original. People infected with the mutant strain, viral load is higher. But the study’s authors from the University of Sheffield found that the local sample of 447 patients, the hospitalization rates were about the same for people infected with one or another version of the virus.
Even if the new strain is no more dangerous than other, it can complicate efforts to control the pandemic. It would be a problem if the mutation makes the virus is so different from earlier strains that people who are immune to them, not be protected from the new version.
If so, it can make “people susceptible to re-infection,” write the study authors.
It is possible that the mutation somehow change the structure of the virus that will help him not to touch the immune system, said Montefiore, who was 30 years working on a vaccine against HIV.