New coronavirus mutation is more contagious – and could be adapting to get round masks, experts warnSeptember 24, 2020
CORONAVIRUS may have mutated to become more contagious – and could be adapting to get round barriers such as masks, experts claim.
Researchers have warned that a dominant strain of Covid-19 could be adapting to get around barriers such as masks and hand-washing.
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Experts in Houston, US, have been sequencing the genomes of the virus since March and have logged 5,085 sequences.
At the start of the pandemic many governments advised people to adhere to social distancing rules, wash hands more and wear face masks.
But one virologist has claimed the virus could start to find its way around these preventative measures.
David Morens who works at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said the virus has become more transmissible.
He told the Washington Post that this “may have implications as to how we can control it.
He added: “Wearing masks, washing our hands, all those things are barriers to transmissibility, or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious it statistically is better at getting around those barriers.”
The study found that one of the mutations is the most dominant in the US and accounts for 99.9 per cent of cases in the Houston, Texas area.
It states that the mutation changes the structure of the “spike protein” and that it could be helping to drive the spread of that strain.
These spikes allow the virus to cling on to infected cells.
This is turn increases the ability of the mutated virus to infect cells.
The experts from the University of Chicago and the University of Texas Austin said that the D614G strain is now outdistancing its competitors.
They found that people with the infected strain had higher viral loads in their respiratory tract that allows the virus to spread more effectively.
Despite the strain being more dominant the experts said this did not mean it was more deadly.
Experts also added that the severity of the disease was linked more closely to patients' underlying health conditions.
The study has not yet been peer reviewed.
The US has the highest number of cases in the world and the experts said that the virus has been given more of an opportunity to mutate in a shorter time period.
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