Epidemiologists have been anxiously waiting for months for the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic to mutate. Apparently it already has.
In this way, a new study claims to have found the first really significant mutation of the pathogen, and for now we can breathe easy.
Virus mutations occur naturally as the pathogen jumps from one victim to another. When the COVID-19 epidemic got out of control beyond any attempt at containment, epidemiologists feared that the spread of the disease would lead to mutations in SARS-CoV-2 that made the development of a universal vaccine impossible.
Fortunately, this was not the case. A recently published study looked at 106 samples of the new coronavirus and found the first significant mutation in a sample collected on January 27 in India. The mutation, in fact, makes the virus less likely to bind to human ACE2 receptors. In a way, the change makes it less infectious, but the protein spines that make up its crown remain the same.
Finally, authors explain that the data they have so far show that the SARS-CoV-2 genome is particularly stable and less diverse than that of other similar viruses such as SARS. It means that the pathogen responsible for this pandemic mutates little and its changes are insignificant, which is good news for the development of the vaccine.
Link to the paper: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.09.034942
Editorial Disclaimer: information published during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic may be updated frequently to reflect the dynamic nature of current understanding.