The Los Angeles Times has reported on a study out of Los Alamos National Laboratory that discovered a new strain of Covid-19 that is supposedly more contagious and spreads faster than the first version of Covid-19. It became dominant in the United States mid-march, and “may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease.”
According to the LA Times:
The new strain appeared in February in Europe, migrated quickly to the East Coast of the United States and has been the dominant strain across the world since mid-March, the scientists wrote.
In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease, the report warned…
Wherever the new strain appeared, it quickly infected far more people than the earlier strains that came out of Wuhan, China, and within weeks it was the only strain that was prevalent in some nations, according to the report. The new strain’s dominance over its predecessors demonstrates that it is more infectious, according to the report, though exactly why is not yet known…
“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,” study leader Bette Korber, a computational biologist at Los Alamos, wrote on her Facebook page. “When viruses with this mutation enter a population, they rapidly begin to take over the local epidemic, thus they are more transmissible.”
Whether or not the new strain is actually more fatal wasn’t determined in the study, “but it could still complicate efforts to bring the pandemic under control,” says the Times. “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.” This information comes as businesses begin to reopen across the United States.
UPDATE (1: 55pm):
Gizmodo spoke to scientists who are skeptical of the study. You can read their article here.
Image: FrankundFrei / pixabay
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