The Covid-19 virus continues to mutate throughout the pandemic, with experts believing it is likely to become more contagious as coronavirus cases in the United States have started to rise again, new research shows.
The new US study analyzed 5,000 genetic sequences of the virus, which continued to mutate as it spread through the population. The study did not find that mutations in the virus made it more deadly or altered its effects, although it might become easier to catch, according to a report from the Washington Post, which noted that health experts public recognize that all viruses have mutations, which are mostly insignificant.
David Morens, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the new study should not be over-interpreted, but added that the virus could respond to public health interventions such as social distancing.
“All of these things are barriers to transmissibility, or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious it is statistically better at getting around those barriers,” he said.
Morens noted that this could mean the virus could continue to mutate even after a vaccine is available, meaning the vaccine will have to be tinkered with – just like the flu vaccine is changed every year.
Twenty states have seen an increase of more than 5% in their Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The United States recorded 38,204 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to nearly 6.9 million. The country passed 200,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, recording between 300 and 1,000 deaths per day.
The United States continues to dominate as the country with the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths.
The latest increase in cases has been mostly concentrated in the west and the Midwest, where states like Colorado, Wyoming, Wisconsin and Montana are seeing an increase. Texas, which has seen a sharp increase in cases over the summer, has seen a noticeable increase in cases in recent days, reporting more than 11,000 new cases on Monday.
Public health experts say it’s too early to say whether the rise in the number of cases is a brief spike following the Labor Day holiday gatherings in early September or whether it is the beginning of an upward trend as the weather begins to cool in many areas and people. head inside. Experts have warned that the two events, in addition to the reopening of K-12 schools and college campuses, could lead to an increase in cases.
In a hearing before Congress on Wednesday, Dr Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), focused on data that shows young Americans are behind the increase cases. According to Redfield, people between the ages of 18 and 25 account for 26% of new coronavirus cases – the largest of any age group.
Redfield also said more than 90% of the US population remains susceptible to Covid-19, crushing any beliefs about developing widespread immunity.