The study later posted by researchers at the Scripps Institute in Jupiter, Florida, in which the most common mutation mutation was, again, D614G, was heading in the same direction. It was feared that there could be a negative evolution of the virus, but in the past few weeks, the scientific community has expressed itself quite in agreement: it is believed that this mutation could make the virus more contagious, but not more dangerous. WHO, which expressed itself on the subject, instead stressed that the mutations seen so far, including D614G, have no influence on contagiousness, nor on vaccines and possible therapies under study.
But the consequences of mutations on diagnostics must also be considered. According to a Turkish study, reported by the non-specialized press but conducted by the vice rector of the Marmara Research Center of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Instanbul, in fact, there could be consequences on the swabs, which could become less specific precisely because the sequences they detect have changed.
In general, the mutation rate would be around 0.02%, a value that may seem small, but which assumes real dimensions when compared to that of human genes which, on average, change in 0.001% of cases. It is not surprising, however, that coronavirus is changing a lot. Meanwhile, because many viruses are characterized by high mutation rates in any condition, and then because it is possible, as a study published in Infection, Genetics and Evolution claims, that Sars-CoV-2 is adapting to its new, welcome guest: the man. In it, a group of experts coordinated by researchers from Imperial College London, examining the genomes of over 7,600 patients around the world, found almost 200 mutations which, according to what was hypothesized based on the types highlighted, would go in the direction of a gradual adaptation to man.
It is essential for scientists to understand how the genome affects the behavior of the virus. The identification of mutations allows researchers to trace its diffusion. Not only. Knowing which genes influence the way the virus is transmitted also allows you to adapt research efforts to contain it. Once we have large-scale therapies and vaccines, having a basic knowledge of the genome will help to identify early the onset of any resistance to drugs.
The map of the detected mutations is available and constantly updated on Nexstrain.org.