A new Chinese study reveals that the deadly coronavirus has already mutated into 30 different strains around the world, increasing the challenge of finding a cure.
Professor Li Lanjuan and his colleagues from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, analyzed the strains from 11 coronavirus patients and detected 30 different mutations, including 19 that were previously undiscovered.
"Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations capable of substantially changing its pathogenicity," said Li in his research paper. The mutations could affect the virus' spike protein, the protein that attaches to humans cells, according to The Jerusalem Post. Some of the mutated strains were extremely aggressive, say the authors, generating 270 times the viral load as weaker strains.
The Daily Mail reports that the most deadly strains were genetically similar to the ones that spread in Europe and New York. Meanwhile, the weaker strains were similar to those found circulating within other parts of the U.S., particularly Washington.
The information confirms a recent report that the U.S. was hit with two different clusters of the virus, with type A dominating the West Coast and the deadlier type B in New York, according to the Daily Mail.
The Chinese study may change the way we're treating the disease, according to the Post. Instead of treating COVID-19 as one disease, with patients receiving the same treatment, experts may have to find different options in different regions to combat the virus.
"Drug and vaccine development, while urgent, needs to take the impact of these accumulating mutations into account to avoid pitfalls," the scientists said.
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