More infectious coronavirus mutation now most common strain: Researchers
LONDON: A new, more infectious mutation of coronavirus is now the most common strain, researchers have warned.
Researchers from the UK's University of Sheffield, Duke University and Los Alamos National Laboratory — both in the US — have warned that COVID-19 has improved its ability to enter and infect human cells since it was first discovered last year.
The new variant has a small but effective change to the "spike" protein protruding from its surface, which researchers believe allows it to infect humans more easily.
"Data provided by our team in Sheffield suggested that the new strain was associated with higher viral loads in the upper respiratory tract of patients with COVID-19, meaning the virus's ability to infect people could be increased," said Dr. Thushan de Silva, senior clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of Sheffield.
He added, however, that while the new variant may increase the likelihood of infection, it does not appear to make the virus more deadly or its symptoms more severe.
Scientists used information from a collaborative database created in Germany to make the discovery.
The news of a more infectious dominant strain comes as total infections have passed 11 million and over half a million people have lost their lives.
Many countries fear that a "second wave" of infections could be approaching as they reopen their economies and try to mitigate some of the financial damage caused by the pandemic’s disruptions.
Source: Arab News/SZA