Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is warning that the coronavirus is mutating to become more infectious. Dr. Fauci discussed the new development during an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association's Dr. Howard Bauchner.
"The data is showing there's a single mutation that makes the virus be able to replicate better and maybe have high viral loads," Fauci said. "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."
Fauci was referencing a newly published study by researchers with the Sheffield COVID-19 Genomics Group. They discovered a new strain of the virus that "has become the most prevalent form in the global pandemic." The paper said that the coronavirus mutated months ago and that the virus that spread through Italy was different than the one which originated in Wuhan, China.
While the virus has mutated to spread faster between people, the new strain does not appear to make people sicker. Another group of researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Immunology and the Coronavirus Immunotherapy Consortium said that early results from their analysis of the new strain showed it does not cause a more severe form of COVID-19.
"Our global tracking data show that the G614 variant in Spike has spread faster than D614," theoretical biologist Bette Korber of Los Alamos National Laboratory and colleagues wrote in their report. "We interpret this to mean that the virus is likely to be more infectious," they added. "Interestingly, we did not find evidence of G614 impact on disease severity."
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