A new study confirms that the SARS-CoV-2 virus mutated, allowing it to spread rapidly around the world, but the mutation could make the virus susceptible to the vaccine.
Doctors from the United States came to such conclusions after studying the D614G coronavirus strain, which appeared in Europe and has already become the most common in the world.
Research from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that the D614G strain multiplies faster and is easier to transmit than the Chinese virus that spread early in the pandemic.
It turned out that although the D614G strain spreads faster, in animal studies it was not associated with more severe disease, and this strain is slightly more sensitive to neutralization with antibodies.
“The D614G virus outweighs and outgrows the hereditary strain by about 10 times and replicates extremely efficiently in primary nasal epithelial cells, which are potentially important sites for human-to-human transmission”, - said Ralph Barick, professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC School of Medicine.
Barik has been studying coronaviruses for over three decades and was instrumental in the development of remdesivir, the first FDA-approved drug for the treatment of COVID-19.
“We saw that the mutant virus is better transmitted by airborne droplets than the original virus, which may explain why this virus was predominant in humans”, - said Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“SARS-CoV-2 is a completely new pathogen for us, its evolution in human populations is difficult to predict. New variants are constantly emerging, such as the cluster 5 variant of SARS-CoV-2 recently discovered in minks in Denmark: it also encodes D614G”, - the authors write.