How COVID Became a More Efficient Virus: Scientists
The coronavirus is learning to be swift, silent, and maybe a little less deadly.
LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA — The coronavirus had bifurcated into G and A viruses when COVID-19 spread to California in March, according to new research published in Cell.
The paper's authors state that the G viruses, which are now the dominant type globally, are differentiated from A viruses by variations in the spike protein.
Spike proteins are the sugar-protein structures on the coronavirus's shell that help the pathogen break into host cells.
The G type coronaviruses replicate more efficiently than D viruses by a factor of two or three times. This means patients infected by the G strain have more viruses in their body.
However, testing samples from six San Diego residents, the scientists found that human antibodies eliminated the G strain as well as, if not better than, the D strain.
In a news release, lead author Erica Saphire of La Jolla Institute says being weaker and less deadly is perhaps the G variant's competitive advantage, as people who are asymptotic or mildly symptomatic are more likely to infect others.
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