The covid-19 virus mutates almost once a week, revealed a study conducted by the British universities of Bath and Edinburgh.
Among the results, it stands out that this Sars-CoV-2 mutation rate is at least 50% higher than what the scientists estimated.
The research detailed that viruses regularly mutate when mistakes are made when copying genomes while it is replicating. It is generally common to think that new mutations have an advantage and therefore spread, as in the case of Alpha and Delta variants, this is known as Darwinian or positive selection.
However, most mutations are harmful to the virus and reduce its chances of survival, that is, purifying or negative selection. These types of mutations do not survive in the patient long enough to be sequenced, therefore, they do not appear in the mutation rate calculations.
The new findings mean that if a patient has covid-19 for more than a few weeks, it could lead to new variants, as “a result of the evolution of the virus in an individual who could not eliminate the infection,” refers the study published by RT in your web portal.
Professor Laurence Hurst, from the Milner Center for Evolution at the University of Bath, explains that the new findings mean that if a patient has COVID-19 for more than a few weeks, it could lead to new variants, as “a result of the evolution of the virus in an individual who was unable to clear the infection“.
However, the possibility of evolution of the virus in a patient is usually not that high, since most people transmit and eliminate it before it mutates.
Also, with the large number of SARS-CoV-2 genomes now sequenced, the team was able to find out how many and why certain mutations were missing, despite not being able to fully study them directly.