The study said that the increase in frequency of this strain is happening at an alarming rate, which indicates that this strain has an advantage over the original strain from Wuhan in terms of fitness.
COVID-19 strain: A new dominant strain of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19 infections, has been identified by scientists and it appears to be more contagious than the strain which originated in the earlier days. The strain has been identified in a study conducted at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US, and the results of the study have been posted on bioRxiv, a portal where researchers can upload their studies before it has been peer-reviewed.
The study states that the new strain started spreading in early February in the continent of Europe and it becomes the dominant strain quickly when it is introduced to new regions. The study said that the increase in frequency of this strain is happening at an alarming rate, which indicates that this strain has an advantage over the original strain from Wuhan in terms of fitness, which is facilitating its rapid spread.
According to the study, in most of the countries including Australia, the US, Canada and even Asian countries outside China, the original Wuhan stain initially affected the population, however, as soon as the new strain came into the new regions, it took over rapidly and affected far more people in much less time.
The study further states that scientists fear that the aggressive strain might also cause the disease to impact the patient more severely. They said that while they did not have access to the clinical outcomes of the disease, they could access the data for clinical outcomes in Sheffield, England, and decided to focus on that geographical region for the testing of impact of the strain on severity of COVID-19. They found that patients affected with the new strain required fewer PCR test cycles for the detection of the presence of the virus, indicating that those affected with the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 carried a heavier viral load. While the data and study in this regard had limitations, the difference observed was still significant, the scientists said.
The scientists said that they are not sure what is causing the new strain to become so dominant, but this strain could be leaving the patients vulnerable to reinfection after they have been cured.
The researchers are hoping that with the new study having been published urgently, other scientists would be able to develop a more effective vaccine or treatment regime against the disease which has caused a global pandemic. COVID-19 has so far led to the death of over 2.5 lakh people, while more than 36.6 lakh patients have been infected.