Thursday, January 21, 2021

How and Why Coronaviruses Mutate

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Health, Medicine

Ed Hessler

Viruses mutate all the time and SARS-CoV-2 is no exception to this characteristic of viruses. 

Two of these mutations have been in the COVID-19 news recently--one is considerably more contagious (~50%) than the original virus, the other decreases the good that vaccines do, what is referred to as the efficacy. The disease following is not considered more serious but if a mutated virus transmits easier than the original this is cause for concern because a slower spread favors us. The mutations also add more stress to health care systems which are already chock full of patients. Similarly for mutations that decrease the efficacy of the vaccine.

Viruses tend to become weaker, more benign as they mutate but the new mutants are spreading, increasing the chance that they will become more efficient and deadly.

In this video (1m 37s) for STAT Alex Hogan explains why and how viruses mutate.

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