Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.gov)
For the first time since the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was discovered in humans, scientists have verified a mutation within the genetic code of the virus.
The SARS-CoV-2 is the Novel Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and has been declared a world pandemic and has already infected more than 2.02 million people while causing 133,677 deaths. SARS-CoV-2 was first revealed to have been transmitted via community spread in China in December 2019.
According to a report by Newsweek, a new study has been released by a team of scientists that says they have identified the first “significant” coronavirus mutation after studying more than 100 samples of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Comparing these samples with 39 genome sequences of the older SARS virus from 2002, the team said that the new coronavirus has a “much lower” mutation rate and genetic diversity than the 2002 SARS virus.
“A relatively stable genome of SARS-CoV-2 is a good indication for the epidemic control, as less mutation raises the hope of the rapid development of [a valid] vaccine and antiviral drugs.”
The team has submitted its findings to the website bioRvix to help get the study into the hands of many of the world’s scientists and scientific communities. This can be especially helpful during a situation as rapidly-shifting as a pandemic.
The study has yet to undergo a rigorous peer-review process, but that is expected to happen in the future.
“We confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 has a relatively low mutation rate but also proved that novel mutation with varied virulence and immune characteristics have already emerged.”
While the mutation has been discovered by this team of scientists, it is not expected to have any negative effect on vaccines for the virus.
Newsweek spoke with Professor Ian Jones from the University of Reading in the UK and he explained that while mutations have been found in the virus, the main pieces required to craft a vaccine remain unaffected.
“Even when this has been suggested, as in this Taiwanese study, the key part of the virus required for vaccine design has not changed. Thus, a very thin silver lining to the epidemic is that vaccine and therapeutics tested now should be equally applicable later in the year or in years to come,” Jones told the publication.
Currently, many biotech and research agencies are working hard on finding a vaccine for COVID-19. Bill and Melinda Gates’ own foundation is spending billions to construct seven different factories to research and a vaccine for COVID-19. While they are investigating seven methods of vaccine, they will ultimately select just one or two of the most promising and move forward with them.
Watch Bill Gates in a recent interview with Ellen below.