Coronavirus is mutated: strains that have evolved to be much more deadly have spread in Europe and New York
The new coronavirus is mutated, which can have very deadly complications for the pandemic, a new small study finds.
A team of Chinese researchers at Zhejiang University say there are at least 30 strains of virus known as SARS-COV-2.
Tribes in China were some of the most dangerous and resembled species that spread across Europe, the South China Morning Post.
Meanwhile, the weaker species seemed to congregate largely within the US.
The authors say their findings are the first to show that the mutation can affect the severity of the disease.
Researchers at Zhejiang University in China have found at least 30 strains of virus known as SARS-COV-2, 19 of which are new
Some of the deadliest mutations included Zhejiang, where the university is located, as well as several European countries
Milder mutations were the species that mainly occur in the United States, such as Washington State. Pictured: A lab technician begins semi-automated testing for COVID-19 at Northwell Health Labs in Lake Success, New York on March 11
For the study, published Sunday on the preprint service medRxiv.org, the team analyzed viral strains from 11 Chinese coronavirus patients.
The Post reported that they then tested how effectively the virus could infect and kill human cells.
Surprisingly, the team found some of the deadliest mutations in Zhejiang, where the university is located.
These mutations were also seen in several severely affected European countries such as Italy and Spain.
In addition, the most aggressive strains could cause up to 270 times more viral load than the least potent type.
However, some of the milder mutations were the varieties that are largely found in the U.S., including Washington state.
“Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations that can significantly alter pathogenicity,” the authors wrote according to the Post.
The researchers cautioned that just because the mutations were milder didn’t mean there was a low risk of death,
Two patients in Zhejiang, one in their 30s and one in their 50s, became seriously ill after contracting weaker strains.
Although both had recovered, the elderly patient required treatment in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
Researchers discovered about 30 mutations in total. About 60 percent of them, or 19, were new.
The authors say that patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, have received the same treatment in the hospital, no matter what strain they have.
They say that strains may require different efforts to fight the virus.
“While developing drugs and vaccines, although urgent, the impact of these accumulating mutations … must be taken into account to avoid potential pitfalls,” the researchers said.
More than 2.45 million people worldwide are infected and more than 168,000 people have died.
In the US, there are more than 771,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 41,000 deaths.