The coronavirus that surfaced in Wuhan, China, last four months has mutated and the new, dominant strain spreading across the U.S. appears to be even more contagious, according to a new study.
The new strain began spreading in Europe on February before spreading to other parts of the world, including the U.S and Canada, becoming the dominant form of the virus across the globe by the end of March.
If the coronavirus doesn’t subside in the summer like the seasonal flu, it could mutate further and potentially limit the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines being developed by scientists around the world, the researchers warned. Some vaccine researchers have been using the virus’s genetic sequences isolated by health authorities early in the outbreak.
In early March, researchers in China said that they have discovered 2 different types of coronavirus that could be causing infections around the world.
As of now, the researchers have identified 14 mutations. The mutation impacts the spike protein, a multifunctional mechanism that allows the virus to enter the host.