Keeping an Eye on COVID-19 Mutations

Keeping an Eye on COVID-19 Mutations

Recently, Nature has published the article The Coronavirus is Mutating – Does It Matter?, which talks about the work of Bette Korber, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist and New Mexico Consortium affiliate.

In March 2020, David Montefiori, who directs an AIDS-vaccine research laboratory at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and Bette Korber, an expert in HIV evolution and computational biologist, began collaborating looking at COVID-19 mutations. Korber had already been searching through thousands of coronavirus genetic sequences from around the world, looking for mutations.

One mutation really stuck out to Korber, called the D614G mutation. She saw that it was inside the gene encoding the specific protein that helps virus particles to insert into cells. She also noticed this mutation appearing again in again in samples from people sick with COVID-19.

Scientists say that this mutation should not be alarming, and has unfortunately been mistakenly reported this way by the press. Instead, it is interesting because it is now pretty much the dominant form of COVID-19 seen in people. It is still unclear to scientists whether the arise of this mutation is due to it being more transmissible. Some studies have found viruses carrying this mutation affect cells more easily. Many scientists say there is still no real proof that D612G has a significant effect on the spread of COVID-19.

One thing scientists do agree on is that studying mutations could be important for helping control the pandemic and give us a heads up on possible future mutations that might evade treatment, vaccines or antibody therapies.

Read the entire Nature article which explains everything in much greater detail at: The Coronavirus is Mutating – Does It Matter? by Ewen Callaway

If you want to read more on this topic, the same news about COVID-19 mutations has also been reported in the New York Times article: The Coronavirus is Mutating And Thats Find (So Far).