The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is hitting Europe a lot harder than the first one. The most affected countries from the old continent are Russia, France, the UK, Italy, and Spain. Each of these countries reports hundreds of people who die every single day, and Europe is eager to start vaccinating its people as soon as possible.
Reuters.com tells us about scientists from the UK who started to wonder if the rapid spread of a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from southern England is connected to key mutations found in the strain.
The pandemic virus could become more infectious
The mutations include changes in the ‘spike’ protein that SARS-CoV-2 uses to infect cells. Thus, the virus could become even more infectious than it is already. Further studies are needed and already in progress for confirming or refuting the hunch, according to what scientists said at the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium. The new variant was named “VUI – 202012/01”.
New mutations for the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease aren’t something new at all, as an official statement from the scientists involved in the study is writing:
As a result of this on-going process, many thousands of mutations have already arisen in the SARS-CoV-2 genome since the virus emerged in 2019.
It’s theoretically possible that a new mutation can cause the virus to become more infectious, more capable of severe illness, or even less sensitive to vaccines. But the odds are much higher that a new mutation doesn’t make the virus much more dangerous.
The current worldwide death toll of the COVID-19 pandemic exceeds 1.6 million people. Fortunately, over 51 million patients infected with the coronavirus had been recovered.