Even as numerous states are in various stages of reopening from coronavirus-related shutdowns, a new scientific discovery appears to have complicated the ongoing response effort.
According to a report from The Blaze, researchers say they have found a “mutant” strain of COVID-19, which they are currently studying in hopes of better understanding the communicable virus.
While viral mutations are common, according to Healthline, their results can differ greatly — from creating a stronger form of the virus to weakening it to the point it begins to dissipate.
“A massive global effort”
Early evidence indicates the new strain of the coronavirus is more contagious than the original, according to researchers at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico. That does not necessarily mean, however, that the virus has become deadlier.
One potential challenge in addressing the new strain is determining whether it leaves individuals open to a second infection after they have recovered from a bout with the original virus.
Despite the alarming nature of the news, lead study scientist Bette Korber said the fact that scientists found the new strain at all is a silver lining to the report.
“This is hard news, but please don’t only be disheartened by it,” the researcher said, according to The Blaze. “Our team at LANL was able to document this mutation and its impact on transmission only because of a massive global effort of clinical people and experimental groups, who make new sequences of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) in their local communities available as quickly as they possibly can.”
Despite the lack of a peer review, the study was published in the journal BioRxiv because researchers said they felt an “urgent need for an early warning” advising the public of the potential danger.
“It quickly infected far more people”
“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 more prevalent in some nations,” the study revealed, according to The Blaze.
Citing the mutated strain’s “dominance over its predecessors,” experts determined “that it is more infectious.”
Some proponents of extended lockdowns are likely to use this revelation to bolster their argument, just as many cite the deadly second wave of a 1918 Spanish flu pandemic as evidence that individuals today must take bolder steps to battle the coronavirus.
It should go without saying, though, that we are now far more advanced in terms of medical care and research. It should also be noted that shutting down the economy was meant to slow the spread of the virus — not to remain in effect until the virus and all its mutations had been eradicated.