Mutant coronavirus more contagious, says study

US researchers said Tuesday the coronavirus that started the epidemic in Wuhan has mutated, and it is more contagious now. This new strain, which is sweeping through the United States, can have implications for the hunt for a vaccine.

It spread first in Europe and then to the United States and Canada and has been dominant strain globally since March, researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in a 33-page paper in BioRxiv, a scientific journal that publishes pre-peer reviewed papers.

If it does not subside in summer, it could further mutate and could potentially be less effective to vaccines that are being developed, the researchers said.

“This is hard news,” Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos and lead author of the study wrote on her Facebook page, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

“But please don’t only be disheartened by it,” she went on. “Our team at LANL was able to document this mutation and its impact on transmission only because of a massive global effort of clinical people and experimental groups, who make new sequences of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) in their local communities available as quickly as they possibly can.”

Upwards of 90 separate efforts are underway in the United States to find a vaccine as the epidemic continues to rage across the country.

It has killed 71,152 people in the United States so far, up by 1,240 in the last 24 hours and infected 1.2 million with 22,335 infections.

Source : Hindustan Times

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