A Change in Coronavirus Genome is Making It More Infectious

According to new research findings, a specific change in the genome of SARS-CoV-2, that was previously linked with increased viral transmission and the spread of COVID-19, has been found to be more infectious in cell culture.

The study published in the journal Cell indicates that the particular change in genome makeup of SARS-CoV-2, previously associated with increased viral transmission and the spread of COVID-19, is found to be more infectious in cell culture lab. However, the new mutated type in question is D614G that is making small but significantly effective change in the genome, specifically at the virus’s ‘spike’ protein, used to enter human cells by the coronavirus.

The lead author of the study, Bette Korber, a theoretical biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, observed and stated, “The D614G variant first came to our attention in early April, as we had observed a strikingly repetitive pattern all over the world. Even when local epidemics had many cases of the original form circulating, soon after the D614G variant was introduced into a region it became the prevalent form.”

From the samples retrieved from the GISAID COVID-19 genome sequence database, the geographic information analysed indicates that the enabled tracking of this highly recurrent pattern has caused a shift in the viral population from the original form to the D614G variant. This occurred at every geographic level: country, sub-country, county, and city.

Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory

In the study, the experiments reveal the preliminary results in the journal pre-proof published today. The results reveal that the D614G change increases the infection rate of the virus in the laboratory.  The new independently performed experiments along with extensive sequence and clinical data and improved statistical models confirms and supports the speculation significantly. However, more work remains to be done to determine the full implications of the change.

Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory

The results reveal that the mutation rate – genome variation rate of SARS-CoV-2 s overall lower relative to the other viruses causing influenza and HIV-AIDS. The D614G variant appears as part of a set of four linked mutations that appear to have arisen once and then moved together around the world as a consistent set of variations.

The clinical data published in the paper indicates that despite the patient with new G virus carries more copies of the virus than patients infected with D, there was no evidence found to prove that there is considerable increase in disease severity. These findings suggest that the newer version of the novel coronavirus is presumed to be more potent and is considers having for potential to rapidly transmitted than the original form. Ultimate, this speculation is confirmed highlighting the significance of following proper SOPs and necessary precautions including wearing mask and physical distancing than to end up in the overcrowded and exhausted infirmaries.

Lastly, the author of the study said, “It is possible to track SARS-CoV-2 evolution globally because researchers worldwide are rapidly making their viral sequence data available through the GISAID viral sequence database”.

To date, almost tens of thousands of sequences are abstained via this project, enabled Korber and the research team to identify the emergence of the D614G variant.

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