It wasn’t so long ago when coronavirus was introduced to us on a global scale. While the first cases were shown to be there in December of last year, it wasn’t until January of this year till the virus really started to gather pace. Indeed while reports that the Chinese government was trying to hide the fact that there was a forced to be reckoned with in the country have been in the news, there are no secrets now as to the deadly affects that the disease has had – not just on humans, but also the world economy as a whole. Is the coronavirus really adapting to humans – and if so, about all the vaccine progress.
An epidemic turned pandemic, it’s no surprise to see that scientists are trying their very best to come up with a solution in a vaccine for the virus. Indeed while the race is on, millions across the world continue to suffer from the virus itself – or the fear of it all. It has been the fear in fact that has motivated the shut down of thousands and thousands of businesses, as we continue to adapt to this way of living. But while we’re continuing to adapt to social distancing and other methods in order to make sure that we’re safe from the virus, is it true that the virus too is adapting to humans?
As daunting as that prospect might be, there is some recent evidence to it too. Indeed scientists have recently found evidence for mutations in some strains of the coronavirus that go on to suggest the pathogen may actually be adapting to humans after the disease saw its advancement being carried out via bats.
The study that has been carried out to suggest that this might be the case has been done by analyzing genomes that have presented themselves from 62 different countries. While they do show that the virus is fairly stable, it has also been the case that some have actually gained mutations – this including two genetic changes that have the potential to alter the critical “spike protein” that the virus uses so as to infect human cells.
Researchers stemming from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine go on to state that for now, it is quite unclear as to how such mutations affect the virus, however, when considering the fact that the changes that have been witnessed arose on an independent scale in different countries – it is in fact quite possible that they might end up helping the virus to spread more easily.
While the spike mutations have been termed as rare for now, the fact of the matter remains – their emergence does indeed highlight the need for global surveillance of the virus so that the more worrying changes are picked up first and with utmost priority.
Previous studies which were carried out when the virus was still in its early stages also claimed that the shape of its spike protein allowed the virus to bind to human cells in a much more efficient manner when compared with Sars – another virus which made the headlines when its sparked at outbreak all the way back in 2002. Such a difference between the two might be the reason why the latest coronavirus has already infected more people that Sars ever did and also why it is spreading much more rapidly around the globe.
Of course one major issue that presents itself when we talk about spike proteins is the fact that it happens to be the main target of leading vaccines, and if it does indeed change, none of these vaccines will work. Other potential solutions that might present themselves such as the likes of synthetic antibodies too might be rendered ineffective if this does turn out to be the case.
It has been revealed that scientists have actually gone on to analyze 5,349 coronavirus genomes that have actually been uploaded to two major genetics databases ever since the outbreak began. As the scientists continue to study the genetic makeup of the viruses, they also proceeded on to working out as to how it has gone on to diversify itself into different strains – all while looking for signs that it was adapting to its human host.
In amongst the latest studies that have been carried out, researchers actually identified two broad groups of coronavirus that have actually mow spread on a global scale. Of the two spike mutations in question, it was revealed that one was subject to being found in 788 viruses around the world, while the other was found to be present in only 32.
Moreover, this particular study went on to show that until January, one group of coronaviruses in China actually escaped detection because of the fact that they had a mutation in the genetic region which early tests relied on. Of course the more recent tests actually detect all of the known types of viruses.
Also, much to the disarray of all those looking to make fake stories about the virus and everything that it represents, just last month, it was confirmed by an international team of scientists who used genetic analyses to show that the virus is likely to have been originated in bats rather than a lab. So all in all, the conspiracy theories that have surrounded by the accusations that the virus was actually “planned” have yet again been rendered false.