The genetic variation of the novel coronavirus that dominates the world today infects human cells more readily than the original that emerged in China, according to a new study published in the journal Cell on Thursday.
The lab-based research suggests this current mutation is more transmissible between people in the real world compared to the previous iteration, but this hasn’t yet been proven.
“I think the data is showing that there is a single mutation that actually makes the virus be able to replicate better, and maybe have high viral loads,” Anthony Fauci, the United States’s top infectious disease specialist, who wasn’t involved in the research, commented to Journal of the American Medical Association.
“We don’t have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not. It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible, but this is still at the stage of trying to confirm that,” he added.
Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Duke University in North Carolina partnered with the University of Sheffield’s COVID-19 Genomics UK research group to analyze genome samples published on GISAID, an international resource for sharing genome sequences.