Coronavirus News Asia

Mutating virus could delay Covid-19 cure


It is a silent, microscopic enemy that attacks cell structures in the human body.

But now the SARS-CoV-2 virus could have evolved into a more virulent strain since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, threatening research on a global-wide vaccine.

In a report released by the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States, scientists discovered that a new variant of the coronavirus that appeared in Europe back in February quickly became the “dominate form.”

Significantly, it infected far more people than the “earlier strains” that came out of China, the study claimed. Within weeks, it was the only variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in certain infected countries before “migrating” to the east coast of the US.

“The story is worrying, as we see a mutated form of the virus very rapidly emerging, and over the month of March becoming the dominant pandemic form,” team leader Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, wrote on Facebook.

Last week, the paper was published on BioRxiv, a website used by scientists before the findings are peer-reviewed. 

Researchers from Los Alamos and Duke University in the US were involved in the project along with the University of Sheffield, the Sheffield Teaching Hospital and the NHS Foundation in the United Kingdom.

They analyzed more than 6,000 novel coronavirus sequences across the world from the data bank of the Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data, a non-profit organization in Germany.


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