(WEHT) – A new study suggests the new coronavirus has mutated in a way that gives it 4 to 5 times more spikes. Those spikes make it more stable and easier to infect human cells.
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida said the mutation affects the spike protein, a structure on the outside of the virus that it uses to get into cells.
They say more research is needed to show whether the change has altered the course of the pandemic, but at least one researcher not involved in the study says it likely has.
The changes may explain why the virus has caused so many infections in the United States and Latin America.
The researchers say that it is still unknown whether this small mutation affects the severity of symptoms of infected people or increases mortality.
More research is needed to confirm all of the findings. The work is now undergoing peer review.
(This story was originally published on June 22, 2020)
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