COVID-19 mutation: Will the rate of transmission increase with mutated virus? Here’s what this study says

By: |
November 30, 2020 1:49 PM

Among many notions regarding COVID-19 mutation, there have been speculations that the mutation in the viral genome may impact the transmission rate of the Coronavirus infection.

coronavirus study, covid 19 study, coronavirus latest update, covid latest update, coronavirus news, covid news,"The entire world is currently looking for effective solutions to disinfect the coronavirus," said Hadas Mamane, co-author of the study from the American Friends of Tel Aviv University in the US. (Representational image: Reuters)

Among many notions regarding COVID-19 mutation, there have been speculations that the mutation in the viral genome may impact the transmission rate of the Coronavirus infection. However, a new study indicates that this is not the case. It is to note that ever since SARS-CoV-2 infection has broken out, health experts have seen mutations in the genome multiple times. This has led many to believe that mutated COVID-19 can spread at a different rate. A study published in the journal Infection, Genetics and Evolution, mutated Coronavirus will not have a higher transmissibility, The IE reported. As per the study’s lead author Professor Francois Balloux, mutations are not benefitting the virus in any way.

Usually, any mutation in the Coronavirus is done in three ways. Mutation can take place either be by mistake due to error in copying at the time of viral replication or it can happen via interactions with other viruses that have infected the same cell. The third way the virus can mutate is due to the immune response of the host. The study highlighted that usually the mutations are neutral but there are some cases, where the mutation may turn out to be detrimental or advantageous to a virus. Fortunately, the mutations in Coronavirus are neutral and do not impact the viral properties in any way.

Researchers across multiple institutions have identified 6,822 mutations in the Coronavirus as of now. There were 31 mutations that turned out to have occurred at least 10 times and were independent of the pandemic course. In order to understand this thoroughly, researchers modelled an evolutionary tree for SARS-CoV-2 and looked for any patterns that indicate any particular mutation becoming common among people. By analyzing this, it was discovered that any common mutation does not lead to any increased transmission of viral infection.

Further, the study noted that the most common mutation found was the virus spike protein called D614G. Also, these mutations have been induced as a response to the human immune system than errors in copying or virus adapting to the human host.

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