Bette Korber, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, is the lead author on a new paper titled Tracking Changes in SARS-CoV-2 Spike: Evidence that D614G Increases Infectivity of the COVID-19 Virus, which came out in the July 2 publication of the scientific journal Cell.
Korber and colleagues’ research shows there has been specific change, or mutation, in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus virus genome. This mutation is called the D614G variant, and the researchers noticed that once it is introduced to a certain part of the world it becomes the dominant form of the virus. How does it become more contagious? The variant, D614G, makes a small but effective change in the virus’s ‘Spike’ protein, which the virus uses to enter human cells.
Although this mutation of the virus spreads more rapidly and quickly becomes dominant, the good news is it does not correspond to an increase in the severity of the illness.
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Korber, B, Fischer, W., Gnanakaran, S, Yoon, H, Theiler, J, Abfalterer, W, Hengartner, N, Giorgi, E., Bhattacharya, T, Foley, B, Hastie, K., Parker, M., Partridge, D., Evans, C., Freeman, T., de Silva, T., McDanal, C, Perez, L., Tang, H, Moon-Walker, A, Whelan, S., LaBranche, C., Saphire, E., Montefiori, D., on behalf of the Sheffield COVID-19 Genomics Group, Tracking changes in SARS-CoV-2 Spike: evidence that D614G increases infectivity of the COVID-19 virus, Cell (2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.06.043.
Bette Korber, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory is also a New Mexico Consortium affiliate scientist.
See the LANL press release here: Newer variant of COVID-19–causing virus dominates global infections