COVID’s Ability To Mutate Underestimated, Study Finds

The South China Morning Post reports:

A new study by one of China’s top scientists has found the ability of the new coronavirus to mutate has been vastly underestimated and different strains may account for different impacts of the disease in various parts of the world.

Professor Li Lanjuan and her colleagues from Zhejiang University found within a small pool of patients many mutations not previously reported. These mutations included changes so rare that scientists had never considered they might occur.

They also confirmed for the first time with laboratory evidence that certain mutations could create strains deadlier than others.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

More than 30 different mutations were detected, of which 19 were previously undiscovered. “Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations capable of substantially changing its pathogenicity,” Li wrote in the paper.

Li ‘s team infected cells with COVID-19 strains carrying different mutations, of which the most aggressive strains were found to generate as much as 270 times as much viral load as the weakest strains. The aggressive strains also killed the human cells the fastest.

The results indicated “that the true diversity of the viral strains is still largely underappreciated,” Li wrote.