A new strain of the coronavirus has become more dominant world wide than the previous known version identified, according to a study performed by Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The new strain was traced as early as February of this year. The study claims it originally came from Europe and migrated quickly to the United States, according to the New York Times.
The 33-page study also revealed that it may potentially make people more vulnerable to a second infection.
“We have developed an analysis pipeline to facilitate real-time mutation tracking in SARS-CoV-2, focusing initially on the Spike (S) protein because it mediates infection of human cells and is the target of most vaccine strategies and antibody-based therapeutics. To date we have identified fourteen mutations in Spike that are accumulating. Mutations are considered in a broader phylogenetic context, geographically, and over time, to provide an early warning system to reveal mutations that may confer selective advantages in transmission or resistance to interventions. Each one is evaluated for evidence of positive selection, and the implications of the mutation are explored through structural modeling.
“The mutation Spike D614G is of urgent concern; it began spreading in Europe in early February, and when introduced to new regions it rapidly becomes the dominant form. Also, we present evidence of recombination between locally circulating strains, indicative of multiple strain infections. These finding have important implications for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, pathogenesis and immune interventions.”
COVID-19 has now infected more than 3 million people world-wide and has killed more than 250,000 civilians.
More than 6,000 coronavirus sequences from around the globe were analyzed.
“The story is worrying, as we see a mutated form of the virus very rapidly emerging, and over the month of March becoming the dominant pandemic form,” study leader Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos, wrote on her Facebook page. “When viruses with this mutation enter a population, they rapidly begin to take over the local epidemic, thus they are more transmissible.”