The study characterised the diversification of the coronavirus, and to do so, it aligned as many as 18,514 independent genome sequences of the virus.
Coronavirus research: Assessment of the genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 in over 27,000 people infected with COVID-19 has led scientists to finding that the novel coronavirus has undergone minimal mutation since the outbreak first began in China at the end of 2019. This is a significant assessment, as it indicates that a single vaccine would be effective in combating infections worldwide, according to a report by news agency PTI. The report stated that the study was published in PNAS journal.
The study characterised the diversification of the coronavirus, and to do so, it aligned as many as 18,514 independent genome sequences of the virus. These sequences were taken into account since the beginning of the pandemic and they were collected from across 84 countries. The scientists then scanned them for variations.
The scientists included those from the US’ Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) and they said that the analyses showed low estimates of differentiation in the genetics of the virus after its initial outbreak in China’s Wuhan. They added that from the study, they have found that so far the genome has evolved mostly randomly and not by adapting to the human hosts encountered by it.
Previously, some studies had stated that in several parts of the world, a mutant form of the virus was dominating. In this mutant form, the molecule aspartic acid D in the spike protein of the virus was replaced by another molecule glycine G. The researchers who carried out this latest study have, however, said that the mutation D614G highlighted earlier could not be taken as an evidence of the virus’ adaptation to humans, the report stated.
The current study’s co-author Morgane Rolland was quoted by the report as saying that like other reports, they notice a rapid increase in the frequency of D614G mutation since the pandemic began, but they were not able to link this mutation to any specific adaptive forces. Roland added that some mutations were to be expected when viruses replicated and spread across the population.
The report added that scientists said that linking of genotypes of the various strains to their traits was complicated, and more research was needed to completely understand the functional impact of the mutation in the virus.
The scientists also stated that considering the low genetic variation, a single promising vaccine candidate would possibly be equally effective against all the strains that are currently going around.