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Most SARS-CoV-2 virus strains feature a specific mutation that makes them more transmissible, to the point that these strains now predominate globally, new evidence shows.
In contrast to a greater variety of strains early in the pandemic, now 99.9% of circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains in the study feature the D614G mutation on the spike protein. In addition, people infected with a D614G strain have higher nasopharynx viral loads at diagnosis.
It’s not all bad news. This single-point mutation was not associated with worse clinical COVID-19 severity. Also, the mutation isn’t expected to interfere with the efficacy any of the antibody cocktails, small molecule therapies or vaccines in development.
Dr Ilya Finkelstein
Furthermore, “as bad as SARS-CoV-2 is, we may have dodged a bullet in terms of how quickly it mutates,” study author Ilya Finkelstein, PhD, told Medscape Medical News. This virus mutates much slower than HIV, for example, giving researchers a greater chance to stay one step ahead, he said.