(Image source from: ETHealthWorld)
According to a study involving more than 5000 COVID-19 patients in the US, the reason this virus has got even more contagious is probably due to the accumulation of genetic mutations.
Contrarily, one of the research published in the journal mBIO didn’t find any change in clinical outcomes or see mutations to be the reason for making this virus deadlier.
What researchers have noted is that the viral entry happens because of a mutation named D614G. This is placed in the spike protein and it opens our cells.
According to an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, US - "The virus is mutating due to a combination of neutral drift -- which just means random genetic changes that don't help or hurt the virus -- and pressure from our immune systems,"
There was an observation made from the coronavirus affected patients in Houston and what researchers found was that these patients had this mutation during the initial wave of the pandemic and during the second wave, this jumped to 99.9 percent, the researchers said.
Further, the researchers saw this as a trend across the globe. Apart from this, they even noted that strains containing this mutation beat those who didn't have it and the natural selection favour strains of the virus that transmit more easily.
Other scientists have suggested another explanation called
Researchers assume that D614G mutation might have been common in the first viruses that reached Europe and North America.
Apart from this, spike protein is accumulating additional mutations of unknown significance.
In lab experiments they noticed that the neutralising antibody that humans naturally produce to fight SARS-COV-2 infection spikes with at least one mutation.
According to researchers, this may allow that variant of the virus to deal with our immune systems. However, it is not clear if it easily transmits between individuals or not.
Even though the scientists have made a note of 285 mutations across thousands of infections, these don’t seem to have a significant effect on assessing severity of the disease.
By Neha Makhija