Research shows the viral genome of COVID-19 improved its ability to infect human cells and now has become the dominant strain circulating around the world today.
The study, published today in the journal Cell, shows the variation is more infectious in cell cultures under laboratory conditions. The variant, named ‘D614G’, makes a small but effective change in the ‘spike’ glycoprotein that protrudes from the surface of the virus, which it uses to enter and infect human cells.
The D614G variant of COVID-19 quickly took over as the dominant strain soon after it first appeared, with geographic samples showing a significant shift in viral population from the original, to the new strain of the virus.
“Data suggests that the new strain is associated with higher viral loads in the upper respiratory tract of patients with COVID-19, meaning the virus’s ability to infect people could be increased.”
“Fortunately at this stage, it does not seem that viruses with D614G cause more severe disease.”
Currently tens of thousands of sequences are available through this project, and this enabled us to identify the emergence of a variant that has rapidly become the globally dominant form.”