Novel Coronavirus is Mutating

Two Main Strains
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Novel coronavirus is running a race with itself, tortoise vs. hare. The slower, older tortoise is off to a slow start against the younger, faster hare. But the more aggressive and deadly “L” coronavirus may be burning itself out and leaving the field to the less aggressive “S” strain, according to some Chinese scientists.

The team of experts from Beijing and Shanghai said 70 per cent of people have caught the most aggressive strain of the virus but that this causes such bad illness that it has struggled to spread since early January.

Now an older, milder strain seems to be becoming more common.

Knowing that the virus can mutate may make it harder to keep track of or to treat, and raises the prospect that recovered patients could become reinfected. __

Mutating strains of virus with different behaviors can complicate the monitoring of the epidemic and treatment of patients. Specific public health measures may need to be adjusted to match the characteristic behavior of specific strains that are dominant in a population.

The more aggressive strain of virus may be responsible for the devastation of Wuhan and the outbreaks in Iran and South Korea. Exposed nations with slower spread and fewer deaths may be both lucky and good. Lucky in the dominant strain of coronavirus and good at epidemic control measures.


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Both the infectivity and the virulence of these strains of novel coronavirus are still being worked out. But the covid19 may be slightly more infectious than most influenza, but not nearly as contagious as measles.

As of March 4 more than 3,200 people had died of COVID-19. Upwards of 200 of those deaths have occurred outside China. Fatalities have been reported in South Korea, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Japan, France, Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia, the Philippines, San Marino, Spain, and the United States.

The US confirmed its first fatality related to COVID-19 on February 29. The King County, Washington, patient was a man in his 50s, according to state health officials, and he suffered from underlying health problems that have not been specified. He has no travel history that can explain his infection with COVID-19. Officials in the same county reported a second death the following day: a man in his 70s, who lived in a nursing home where several patients and staff members are currently ill with COVID-19. Health officials announced the deaths of another three nursing home residents on Monday, along with sixth fatality in nearby Snohomish County. __

There is a lot more to learn from this epidemic, as it continues trying to become a global pandemic. Consider it a test, with potentially deadly consequences for failure.

The next one to come along may not be as easy to survive.


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