I don’t imagine that the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is what’s driving the virus’s continued unfold. The coronavirus stays good at propagating itself as a result of most of us nonetheless are prone to it; we aren’t immune, and it will probably nonetheless discover new hosts to contaminate comparatively simply.
In the identical problem of Cell that revealed the Korber paper, the viral epidemiologist Nathan Grubaugh and colleagues argued that the “improve within the frequency of G614 could possibly be defined by probability and the epidemiology of the pandemic.”
In different phrases: The following time you evaluate completely different outbreaks and begin questioning or worrying in regards to the variations, assume first that these variations must do with situations on the bottom, quite than something in regards to the virus itself, like a brand new mutation.
Contemplate, for instance, the wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections that has hit Australia since June. Whereas there was a significant outbreak within the state of Victoria (peaking at around 700 cases per day), the one within the state of New South Wales has been minor to date (with a daily case count usually around 10) — but each have been attributable to the identical variant of the coronavirus, the one with the D614G mutation.
The exact causes for these variations are nonetheless being investigated, however one could also be, merely, that as a result of the outbreak hit Victoria first, the well being authorities of New South Wales had extra time to organize.
Mortality charges, too, differ between locations, and in some locations the virus might seem to kill extra folks. However once more, these variations in all probability say much less in regards to the virus than about variations in how the illness is being handled, or the place the virus has unfold largely amongst weak populations, like people in nursing homes.
What’s extra, even when the D614G mutation does improve the virus’s infectivity in people, that truth in all probability doesn’t have any main implications for our prospects of creating an efficient vaccine. The mutation does have an effect on the spike protein, however not the part of it that the neutralizing antibodies of the human immune system target when the physique defends itself in opposition to an infection.