The novel coronavirus has been mutating into several strains over time. Despite huge similarities the virus has with the SARS virus, it is becoming hard to deal with this. New research says that the mutated SARS-CoV-2 in the West is 10 times more infectious than China's original strain.
Researchers from Florida's Scripps Research Institute responsible for this discovery said that it happened so because the "spike protein" that the virus uses to attach to cells has adapted since January.
More Resilient And Stable Virus
Earlier, coronavirus happened to break off regularly as they tried binding to receptors in people's airways to gain entry to the body, but now it has become more resilient, said the experts.
It was already known for months that viral strains of Europe and the US had more potency than China's, where novel coronavirus first originated. But this is the first time a possible cause has been suggested by scientists in the study published on bioRxiv.
Genetic mutations happen through transmission and replication among the masses, and it has led to the viral protein becoming resilient to snapping off the receptors. This allows the virus to emerge as a dominant strain, as it happened in the West.
10x Infectious Not Accidental
This is also the reason why coronavirus is approximately 10 times more infectious than before, according to scientists. This SARS-CoV-2 mutation is named as G614, while D614 represents the Wuhan strain when it was discovered in December 2019.
The fact that G614 had become the most dominant strain in UK, US, Canada and Italy was known back in May. But now, further research has given more information.
Dr. Hyeryun Choe, a lead researcher of the Scripps study, told The Washington Post that these mutations likely compensated for the weakness that existed in the spike protein earlier. The researchers said that S-G614 was more stable than SD614, explaining why S-G614 is transmitted more efficiently. "This is not just accidental," said Choe.
No Effect on The Severity of Illness
After all this, despite the higher infectiousness rate, there is no change in the effectiveness of the disease. Experts suggest this is due to the fact that spike protein had nothing to do with virus replication once it enters the body.
This poses a question to the scientists as to why the more stable G614 version of coronavirus is more transmissible but without any difference in COVID-19's severity. Experts suggest that other factors may be limiting its efficiency.