A new study in China has revealed that the coronavirus has transformed into at least 30 different variations.
The study concluded that the overall ability of the virus to mutate has been significantly underestimated by medical officials, in reports that various strains have infected different parts of the world, leading to possible difficulties in seeking a complete cure.
The research was conducted by Professor Li Lanjuan and Zhejiang University colleagues in Hangzhou, China, and published on Sunday in a non-peer reviewed paper posted on the medRxiv.org website.
Li’s team studied the strains of 11 randomly selected Hangzhou coronavirus patients, were 1,264 recorded cases have occurred, and then tested how efficiently they could infect and kill cells.
More than 30 separate mutations have been identified, 19 of which have previously been undiscovered.
Li wrote in the paper, “Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations capable of substantially changing its pathogenicity.”
As per the South China Morning Post, The team revealed that some of the mutations could lead to functional changes in the virus’s spike protein. Spike protein is the protein that the coronavirus uses to attach itself to human cells.
The research may have potential consequences for coronavirus therapy, as many different strains have been identified worldwide.
Coronavirus has been treated as a disease in hospitals around the world, and patients receive the same care regardless of the strain. The team at Zhejiang University has proposed that identifying mutations in different regions can change how we approach fighting the virus.
The scientists said, “Drug and vaccine development, while urgent, need to take the impact of these accumulating mutations into account to avoid potential pitfalls.”