According to a study by U.S. researchers, a specific mutation, named D614G, in the new coronavirus can significantly increase its ability to infect cells.
The research may explain why early outbreaks in some parts of the world did not end up overwhelming health systems as much as other outbreaks in New York and Italy.
The mutation( D614G) increased the number of “spikes” on the coronavirus – which is the part that gives it its distinctive shape. Those spikes are what allow the virus to bind to and infect cells.
“The number—or density—of functional spikes on the virus is 4 or 5 times greater due to this mutation,” said Hyeryun Choe, one of the senior authors of the study.
However, it is still unknown whether this small mutation affects the severity of symptoms of infected people, or increases mortality.
Older research has showed that the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is mutating and evolving as it adapts to its human hosts. The D614G mutation in particular has been flagged as an urgent concern because it appeared to be emerging as a dominant mutation.
The Scripps Research study is currently undergoing peer review and was released on Friday amid reports of its findings.
Source : Reuter