According to experts👨🔬🧑🔬, the newly documented case of coronavirus infection that is continuing to spread around us is not the same as the virus that emerged in Wuhan province of China in late 2019.
This is because (like many other viruses) coronavirus is prone to changes in its genetic structure because of its process – M. U. T. A. T. I. O. N
So what is MUTATION?
The property of the virus🦠 to undergo changes when it multiplies is mutation. As it replicates, it may not produce exact replicas of itself, resulting in the emergence of new strains which may be more or at times less effective. Some strains die out while the most effective ones which spread efficiently, survive.
Coronavirus is genetically a single-stranded RNA virus (ssRNA). All viruses of this kind mutate. Let’s understand this with the influenza virus, which is also ssRNA virus. This virus too mutates so much that vaccination 💉is required every year as the previous one may not provide full protection.
According to a study conducted by researchers in China and published in the journal – National Science Review -titled “On the Origin and Continuing Evolution of SARS-CoV-2”, the novel Coronavirus have emerged with amino acids of ‘S’ type which mutated into ‘L’ type. Amino acids are organic compounds which combine to form proteins. These proteins are found in the spikes of the virus that act as antigen.
According to the study, the ‘L’ type strain of the virus became more dominant in China while ‘S’ type strain became more contagious in the rest of the world. However, in Europe, another strain of the virus – D614G – was found and became dominant in whole of Europe along with many other parts of the world. In India, the first strain of coronavirus was the ‘L’ strain that originated in Wuhan which eventually mutated into ‘S’ and ‘G’ strain, which have spread across the country.
Is mutation a bigger threat to the already dangerous pandemic?
Owing to mutation, there are multiple strains of Coronavirus floating in the country, however, only one or two dominate. And while the dominating mutated virus may spread at a faster rate, it may or may not be as dangerous as the original one.
The lower fatality ratio in the country, the very high levels of asymptomatic cases, does not indicate that these variants are more dangerous versions. Virus needs a host to survive and propagate. If it kills the host organism, it dies out too, which it obviously would not like to! So, in its own interest do not mutate into a severe lethal strain, it continues to live and propagate efficiently.
According to Dr K.K.Agarwal, President of Confederation of Medical Associations (CMAAO) and Medtalks, a virus mutates in order to continue to exist, it would try to enter more and more bodies and would need its host to remain alive. He further said, “mutating virus are more contagious but the virulence of such virus continues to decrease with each mutation. And so mutation is not something to worry about because it results in a milder strain. The mortality caused by this virus is low but it is spreading fast among the younger population.”