After surpassing 200,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S, the most out of any country in the world, new information has presented itself. And, it’s quite concerning.
While we know the coronavirus is prone to mutations, scientists have discovered a new one that may be more contagious, according to a study.
In a paper published Wednesday, scientists identified a new strain of the virus, which accounted for 99.9 percent of cases during the second wave in Houston, Texas, according to the Washington Post. While all viruses undergo genetic mutations, most are insignificant. But, with the sweeping effects of the coronavirus, especially in the United States, the changes in the virus may have troublesome consequences, said study author James Musser of Houston Methodist Hospital.
According to the study, the virus has become more transmissible and “may have implications for our ability to control it,” according to the Washington Post.
Experts say this alteration could be a response by the virus to defeat masks and other social distancing protocols.
“Wearing masks, washing our hands, all those things are barriers to transmissibility, or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious it statistically is better at getting around those barriers, said David Morens, senior adviser to Anthony Fauci, the director of the NIAID.
This new discovery has raised several concerns among the science community. If the virus continues to mutate alongside the growing immunity of the population, it would cause a similar situation as with the yearly flu. Because of the nature of the flu, scientists are forced to toggle the vaccine to keep up with the different strains.
And, with a COVID-19 vaccine reaching the final testing stages with several different eager companies, this new information comes at a critical time.
“This isn’t a murder trial,” said study author James Musser of Houston Methodist Hospital. We’re not looking for beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a civil trial, and clearly, it’s the preponderance of the evidence that I think forces all of us into the same conclusion, which is that there’s something biologically different about that strain.”
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