(ReliableNews.org) – There are many ways our leading scientists are conducting research on the coronavirus. Some are analyzing its cellular structure for weaknesses while others are studying the footprints left behind by the virus. Researchers have also been tracking various strains that develop as it travels across the world in order to create a narrative about where the virus has been and when.
One of the new strains of SARS-CoV-2 recently found is identified as the dominant mutation found worldwide and it’s more infectious than the original. An increased contagion rate brings a higher number of COVID-19 cases and a higher probability of reinfections.
The new strain showed up early February in Europe, which then quickly made its way to America’s eastern coast. This new shocking discovery was found by scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). A new report outlining this mutation was found on BioRxiv, a hub for researchers to share work before it’s peer-reviewed. Virus data from across the globe, collected from the German-based Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data, were analyzed.
While the report hasn’t been peer-reviewed, the team felt it was urgent to immediately bring this to the attention of those developing vaccines.
Images of the coronavirus depict numerous spikes emerging from the central mass. The new mutation affects those spikes, which help the virus penetrate into respiratory cells. It’s currently unknown precisely why and how the new strain is more infectious.
This new mutation has been far more effective at spreading compared to the original strain from Wuhan, China. It took two months for this new strain to develop and COVID-19 cases were low until that point. This could explain the initial relatively slow spread in China compared to the explosion of cases across the globe.
BioRxiv is a site intended to speed up collaboration processes with scientists across the globe as they work to find treatments and a cure. The LANL created a separate website of its own to “facilitate analysis and interpretation of SARS-CoV-2 genomic data.” In addition to connecting researchers, it contains resources, infographics, and interactive data charts.
Also, the LANL team worked with scientists from Duke University and the University of Sheffield in England. The report is very technical and detailed, giving researchers more valuable data to work with.
Although it’s uplifting to see real progress being made with studying the virus, this new discovery is concerning. If it only took two months for a highly-infectious mutation to occur, then could another more transmissible strain emerge? Only time will tell, but we have the best minds in the world coming together to discover exactly what this virus does and how to beat it.
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