Scientists have been working hard to solve the riddles of SARS-CoV-2 since January, when Beijing finally shared the mapped genome with the global scientific community (although early research was also filtered out through The Lancet, a British magazine). Currently, scientists around the world have studied hundreds of thousands of virus samples from around the world. They compared and matched their genetic code, and they defined what seems like an important pattern. That is: the earliest version of the virus that spread in Wuhan is not genetically identical to the iteration that went on to conquer Europe and the United States.
According to Bloomberg Report Comparing the results of four unreviewed studies, it turns out that a noticeable virus mutation, which appeared widely at the beginning of its global campaign, helped make COVID-19 more infectious at later iterations than it was in the first weeks of the outbreak. causing fears that the virus might continue to evolve in such a way as to elude the scientists working on the vaccine, or simply make the virus more deadly.
At least four laboratory experiments suggest that the mutation makes the virus more contagious, although not one of these works has been reviewed. Another unpublished study by scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory claims that patients with the G-variant actually have more virus in their bodies, which makes them more likely to pass it on to others.
The mutation doesn’t seem to hurt people, but more and more scientists worry that this has made the virus more infectious.
“Epidemiological research and our data together explain why [G variant’s] Distribution in Europe and the US was very fast. “ said Hyeryun Choe, a virologist at Scripps Research, and lead author of an unpublished study of the increased infectivity of variant G in laboratory cell cultures. “This is not just an accident.”
Another group of researchers described a sense of shock when they realized how much more effective this mutation made the virus in terms of its ability to penetrate human cells.
Neville Sanjana, a geneticist from the New York Genome Center and New York University, was trying to figure out which genes allow SARS-CoV-2 to enter human cells. But in experiments based on a sequence of genes taken from an early case of the virus in Wuhan, he struggled to get this form of the virus to infect cells. Then the team switched to a model virus based on option G.
“We were in shock,” Sanjana said. “Voila! It was just a huge increase in viral transduction. ” They repeated the experiment in many types of cells, and each time the option was many times more infectious.
The indicated mutation is known as D614G, or simply “G” for short. So far, the “G” mutation has been detected in approximately 70% of half a million or so samples that have been uploaded to a common database for scientists around the world. This has convinced many scientists of its significance, especially because the mutation occurs in that part of the genome that controls the infamous “spiky” protein, which gives the virus its name (“crown” = crown in Latin) and is believed to allow it to infiltrate human cells.
“I think we are gradually starting to come to a consensus,” says Judd Hultqvist, a virologist at Northwestern University.
Although this does not help finding a cure, understanding the role of these mutations is critical to understanding how the virus works. This, in turn, would allow scientists to track mutations and help them distinguish, which can increase the ability of the virus to destroy human life.
“Understanding how the transfer takes place will not be a magic bullet, but it will help us respond better,” Sabeti said. “It’s a race against time.”
Although, of course, even with all the studies that have been done so far, scientists cannot say much, if anything, for sure about the mutation. There may be other explanations for the dominance of variant G in the global pandemic: perhaps the bias in where the genetic data is collected has led to the fact that it was overrepresented in the samples, or the quirks due to which the variant “G” dominated particularly susceptible populations.
“The bottom line is that we haven’t seen anything definite yet,” said Jeremy Luban, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Remember that the next time you hear Trump, Dr. Fauci, or the “vaccine king” from the White House discuss the possibility of getting the vaccine by the end of the year, or the next time you see that a contract has been signed in the country.about to buy millions of doses of remesivir gileadJust keep that in mind.