Mutations continue in coronavirus! There is increased contagiousness but no increase in lethality yet!
New research has again revealed that the coronavirus is mutating. This mutation is related to its contagiousness and hence it is spreading to more people. That explains the high number of cases seen in the USA daily. The mutations are not making the virus more lethal.
Coronavirus and its new mutations
Coronavirus like the flu virus is known to mutate rapidly so that it can survive longer. It has undergone a number of mutations since it is coming into this world in December 2019. A new USA study studied nearly 5000 genetic sequences of the virus. It revealed that the virus is continuing to mutate frequently.
The mutations did not make the virus more lethal. Nor did the virus change in its effect due to it. But yes, its contagiousness has increased. This means that it is easier to catch the virus now and that it is rapidly spreading in the community. All viruses do mutate but some of the mutations are not of any clinical or health significance.
Experts and their views
David Morens, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases stated that the new findings should be taken with caution. He feels that one should not over-interpret the results. David also felt that the virus may be responding to the social distancing and other public health measures that the countries and people have taken. He said:
“All those things are barriers to transmissibility or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious it statistically is better at getting around those barriers,”
These findings also imply that the virus may mutate even after a vaccine becomes available. And hence the vaccine might fall short at that point. The vaccine therefore may need to be adjusted and adapted every time a new mutant strain of the virus pops up. This would be similar to the flu vaccine that is made every year.
The USA and its stats of coronavirus
The United States of America tops the list of countries affected the worst with the virus. India is close second and Brazil in third. In the USA, the maximum surges in cases are now seen in MidWest and West areas such as in Colorado, Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Montana. Experts are not clear whether this is a temporary phase due to the rise in cases related to Labor Day gatherings at various places or whether it is a long-term uptick due to the coming in of winter. Most viruses surge during winter times. And the reopening of colleges and schools might worsen the scenario.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that young people in the 18-25 years have caused 26% of the increase in new cases. He also revealed that there has yet been no significant herd immunity in the USA. 90% of its people are still susceptible to the virus.
Countries have to step with caution and move slowly out of the lockdowns and restricted life phase to prevent cases from suddenly rising and creating a health care crisis.