Coronavirus Mutates Into Now-Dominant, More Contagious Form As Doctors Ponder ‘East Coast vs. West Coast’ Strains

A new study from Los Alamos National Laboratory has revealed a new, now-dominant strain of the coronavirus which appears to be more contagious, according to the authors. Meanwhile, doctors in the United States are wondering if the harder-hit East Coast is being hit with a different version of the virus than the West Coast.

Emerging in early February, the new strain migrated from Europe to the East Coast of the United States, where it became the dominant strain across the world beginning in mid-March. Wherever the new strain has appeared, it’s quickly infected far more people than earlier strains which emerged from Wuhan, China. Within weeks it became the most prevalent strain in some nations.

In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease, the report warned.

The 33-page report was posted Thursday on BioRxiv, a website that researchers use to share their work before it is peer reviewed, an effort to speed up collaborations with scientists working on COVID-19 vaccines or treatments. That research has been largely based on the genetic sequence of earlier strains and might not be effective against the new one. –LA Times (via Yahoo)

According to the report, fourteen mutations have been identified in the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2, the protrusions on the exterior of the virus which make up its namesake ‘corona.’

The report was based on a computational analysis of more than 6,000 coronavirus samples from around the world, collected by the Germany-based Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data.

Assisted by scientists at Duke University and the University of Sheffield in England, the Los Alamos team focused on a mutation called D614G, which controls changes in spike proteins.

“The story is worrying, as we see a mutated form of the virus very rapidly emerging, and over the month of March becoming the dominant pandemic form,” said lead author Bette Korber, a Los Alamos computational biologist. “When viruses with this mutation enter a population, they rapidly begin to take over the local epidemic, thus they are more transmissible.”

Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, leads a team examining mutations of the novel coronavirus. (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, leads a team examining mutations of the novel coronavirus. (Los Alamos National Laboratory)

While the Los Alamos report is highly technical and dispassionate, Korber expressed some deep personal feelings about the implications of the finding in her Facebook post.

This is hard news,” wrote Korber, “but please don’t only be disheartened by it. Our team at LANL was able to document this mutation and its impact on transmission only because of a massive global effort of clinical people and experimental groups, who make new sequences of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) in their local communities available as quickly as they possibly can.” –LA Times

The new strain first appeared in Italy, almost at the same time as the original Wuhan strain appeared, according to the report. By March 15, the mutated strain was dominant. The same was seen in New York, which was hit by the original virus around March 15, but was overwhelmed by the new strain within days.

The authors also warn that if the pandemic doesn’t wind down during the summer as most viruses do, it could undergo further mutations right as the first medical treatments and vaccines – should the adhere to ambitious timelines we’ve been promised – begin to roll out.

We cannot afford to be blindsided as we move vaccines and antibodies into clinical testing,” Korber added on Facebook. “Please be encouraged by knowing the global scientific community is on this, and we are cooperating with each other in ways I have never seen … in my 30 years as a scientist.”

David Montefiori, a Duke University scientist who worked on the report said it is the first to document a mutation in the coronavirus that appears to make it more infectious.

Although the researchers don’t yet know the details about how the mutated spike behaves inside the body, it’s clearly doing something that gives it an evolutionary advantage over its predecessor and is fueling its rapid spread. One scientist called it a “classic case of Darwinian evolution.”

D614G is increasing in frequency at an alarming rate, indicating a fitness advantage relative to the original Wuhan strain that enables more rapid spread,” the study said.

Different strains, different effects?

As the Times notes, doctors in the United States have begun to question whether new strains of the virus could account for differences in how it affects different people, according to UC San Francisco professor Alan Wu, who runs the clinical chemistry and toxicology laboratories at SF General Hospital.

According to Wu, medical experts have speculated in recent weeks that at least two strains of coronavirus were circulating in the US – one prevalent on the East Coast and one on the West Coast.

“We are looking to identify the mutation,” said Wu, who highlighted that his hospital has only had a few fatalities out of the hundreds of cases it’s treated, which is “quite a different story than we are hearing from New York.”

The Los Alamos study does not indicate that the new version of the virus is more lethal than the original. People infected with the mutated strain appear to have higher viral loads. But the study’s authors from the University of Sheffield found that among a local sample of 447 patients, hospitalization rates were about the same for people infected with either virus version.

Even if the new strain is no more dangerous than the others, it could still complicate efforts to bring the pandemic under control. That would be an issue if the mutation makes the virus so different from earlier strains that people who have immunity to them would not be immune to the new version.

And if the mutation makes it back to those who have already had COVID-19, it would make “individuals susceptible to a second infection,” according to the authors.

via zerohedge

20 comments

  1. Speculation once again. And why make Facebook post if you are professional? Would, could, might. Sound familiar? You know, next they will be blaming climate change and etc. The usual bilge that we get from the “learned” community. They make lots of money on bad predictions.

  2. Sounds to me like just another excuse for keeping us “locked down”.I refuse to believe any of it!

  3. Communist REGIMES CAN’T be trusted….Hope the whole wide WORLD has LEARNED it’s lesson….They DON’T get their way, they turn around and will KILL you…..that’s ALL I get from this ATROCITY….!!!!

  4. Hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc in combo will act as both prophylactic and cure for ANY coronavirus with limited side effects. This does not fit media narrative but factual nonetheless!

  5. Yup, more BS from entities with axes to grind and conflicts of interest out the ass in order to instill yet more and continued fear in the people and ease the path to authoritarianism by elected and un-elected) officials. Time to throw them all out! Aux armes, citoyens! Formez vos bataillons! Marchons, marchons!

  6. THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING THESE DAYS, GOD THE FATHER, THE LORD JESUS, THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OUR LADY HAVE BEEN CAST ASIDE BY MORE AND MORE EVERY DAY.

    THE LORD’S WORD TELLS US ALL THE FOLLOWING…IF ONLY WE WOULD LISTEN AND USE IT TO HELP OURSELVES/OTHERS.

    “HE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.” “APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.” “WITH GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.” “I CAME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE, AND TO THE FULL.” “LORD, YOU ARE MY HELP AND MY SALVATION; OF WHOM SHOULD I BE AFRAID.” “THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM IS, “GET DISCIPLINE””. “IN YOU, DEAR GOD, WHO ARE MY STRENGTH, I HAVE STRENGTH FOR WHAT I MUST DO THIS DAY.” “GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.” (NOT THE WEEKLY/MONTHLY BREAD) “WHERE TWO OR MORE ARE GATHERED IN MY NAME, THERE SO AM I. WHATSOVER THEY SHALL AGREE UPON EARTH AS TOUCHING, IT WILL BE GRANTED UNTO THEM BY MY FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN.” (HE IS NOT GOING TO GRANT WHAT IS HARMFUL)

    IN THE COVID-19 SITUATION WE’RE IN NOW, ANY OUT THERE WHO BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF UNITED PRAYER, INCLUDING ALL OUR RESEARCHERS, MEDICAL PERSONNEL, WORSHIPPING COMMUNITIES, CHILDREN,GOVERNMENTS, PEOPLE OF OTHER NATIONS, PLEASE “AGREE IN PRAYER” WITH ALL OTHERS WHO DO WHILE CONSIDERING THIS LAST CRITICAL, CRUCIAL SCRIPTURE…AND CLAIMING IT!

    “THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD CAN TELL US THINGS BEYOND REACH OF OUR KNOWLEDGE”.

    “DEAR LORD JESUS, WE DESPERATELY NEED KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF COVID-19, EFFECTIVE DECISIVE TREATMENT AND RAPID CURE. PLEASE, DEAR LORD, IMPART THIS NEEDED WISDOM TO YOUR DEVOTED SERVANTS WHO SHOW THEIR LOVE FOR YOU BY SERVING THE NEEDS OF YOUR PEOPLE…WE BELIEVE WE WILL RECEIVE WHAT WE ASK FOR “IN YOUR NAME, LORD JESUS”. AMEN”

    THE LORD IS KING; WE ARE THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE KING. MARY, MOTHER OF JESUS, IS QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, OF ANGELS AND SAINTS.. PLEASE….PRAY HER ROSARY! IT’S VERY POWERFUL!! RESEARCH ALL THE ARCHANGELS AND GUARDIAN ANGELS AND LEARN TO CALL ON THEM!

    THE LORD, WHO IS MASTER OF ALL, THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN, CREATED AND OWNS EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD, KNOWS ALL, SEES ALL, HAS ALL THE ANSWERS, WANTS US TO BE WELL AND AT PEACE…WITH HIM IN OUR LIVES.

    IN THE BOOK OF JAMES, HE TELLS US THAT AS WE PRAY FOR OTHERS AND SELVES, WE NEED TO ASK HIM PROPERLY, TRUSTING, BELIEVING…NOT TO EXPECT TO RECEIVE OTHERWISE.

    OUR NATION WILL RISE LIKE THE PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES BY HIS LOVE, POWER, MIGHT AS HE GUIDES PRES TRUMP, A UNIFIED COUNTRY, “ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.”

    1. Pretty good except for “Mary, Mother of Jesus” being queen of heaven. Sorry, but if you really believe the Bible and study it, Mary is asleep wherever she was buried waiting for Jesus to come and raise her and all the other sleeping Christians to go to heaven with Him then. This is clearly stated throughout the Bible and by Jesus Himself, that when He comes again He will RAISE the righteous DEAD first, and then the living righteous will join them in the clouds with Him. If the righteous (including His mother Mary) have already gone to heaven, just who was He talking about raising when He comes again? It is very clear throughout the Bible that when you die, you have gone to sleep and will stay in that grave until Jesus comes again. Only Elijah, Enoch and Moses have gone to heaven early.

      1. The “good thief” was promised Paradise the same day as Jesus by Jesus himself.

        Mary is an exception because she was kept free from sin from her own conception. If she weren’t, she would not be a worthy vessel (specifically by virtue of her womb) for Jesus. This is the teaching of sacred tradition (from which also comes the Holy Trinity, which is not mentioned NY name in the Bible, but exists nonetheless), tha dates back to the early Church, even before the Reformation.

  7. To me the whole thing sounds like a load of bullshit, aimed at keeping the economy shut down until Trump loses the election in November. I read that past history shows that when a virus mutates, the new model is much weaker than the original. Now, we are said to have one where the mutated virus is doubly as bad as the original. If this is true, we may as well go out and party (or maybe go to church) because if the new virus is worse that the original, what is to prevent the mutated one to mutate again (after killing 1000’s of us) to be worse than the second model? If there are going to be waves of these “changed” viruses coming through during the entire next century, we had better quit lying about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine and get stocked up on the drug -and pray a lot. I think these “experts” have earned the right to be ignored.

  8. I don’t believe anything anymore about this virus! A packing plant in Michigan tested all their employees, hundreds, and every single one tested positive and every single one had no symptoms. What a bunch of BS !!

  9. Dr Anthony Fauci should stand trial, be found guilty, then executed for his crime against humanity. How many people have died due to his research, just in order to make a vaccine and Billions of Dollars. Anyone complicit in this conspiracy should also receive the Death Penalty! I don’t give a damn how wealthy they are!

  10. I agree, it’s more scare tactics, to intimidate, keeps things closed and diminish America. We lose 25,000 a month with smokers and vapors, that’s not including drugs and other health issues. Just wondering, if hospitals and nursing homes are still paid for their COVID-19 patients.

  11. The Democratic Party are wanting people to be “LOCKED DOWN” forever. They want to be in control of EVERYONE’S lives. They want to control the money people get. EVERYTHING. It’s ALL about control for the Democrats. We the people will have ZERO rights if a Democrat is elected as President.

    “GET ON THE TRUMP TRAIN”🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

  12. coronavirus hoax act #2…
    Make predictions of massive deaths, lock the country down, destroy the economy, destroy the lives of millions of people, blame Trump.

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