Worrisome Covid-19 Mutation Is More Contagious

In a recent study published in the Journal Cell on July 2nd, 2020, researchers discussed a mutation they found, called “D614G”, that causes a change in the “spike” protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (i.e., COVID-19). In essence, spike proteins are what allow many illnesses, including coronavirus, to penetrate human cells and cause infections. Therefore, researchers suggest that the mutation, which was discovered in at least four lab experiments, makes the virus more infectious. This mutation, also known as the “G variant” or “G,” has been found in 70% of the 50,000 genomes of the new virus that researchers worldwide have uploaded to a shared database. Thus far, the mutation does not appear to make people sicker, but scientists worry that it has made the virus more contagious.

At this stage, researchers have not seen anything definitive yet. Scientists conducting various studies on the G variant have come to different conclusions as to why the variant is so infectious. Some scientists believe the variant makes the spike protein more stable, whereas others believe the mutation increases the efficiency of the virus to invade and take over cells. A third study suggests that the mutation allows the spike protein to change shape, improving its ability to fuse into the cell. Ultimately, none of these studies are conclusive, and scientists must continue their research to come up with more definitive answers.

What we do know so far is that social distancing helps combat the spread of the virus. Additionally, the recent jump in cases, especially in Southern states, is from a rise in infection rates, not due to the number of tests alone. Many states have reversed reopening plans as a result of the increase in cases. The best we can all do at this point is to continue to social distance, wear masks, and wait for more answers.




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