Discovered the first significant mutation of the novel coronavirus

MOSCOW, 20 APR — RIA Novosti. Scientists from Taiwan and Australia reported the discovery of the first major mutations of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the results of the preliminary studies published on the website of bioRxiv preprints.

Experts have studied the genetic structure of 106 samples of the pathogen COVID-19 from the database, which contains genome-wide information of records obtained from infections worldwide. The data included 54 entries from USA, 35 from China, three from Spain, two from Brazil and one from Australia, Finland, India, Italy, Nepal, South Korea and Sweden.

a Mutation found in a sample taken from a patient in India on January 27. It reduced the ability of the pathogen to bind to a receptor on human cells, called ACE2, that is less dangerous to humans.

the Scientists also compared the information about the new coronavirus from 39 sequences of the genome of the SARS coronavirus that caused the 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, known as SARS. The results showed that, in General, the genome of the virus SARS-CoV-2 is much more stable and less prone to mutations than the SARS virus. It is also more stable than the virus that causes SARS.

According to the authors, it is encouraging that the vaccine COVID-19 will be effective, though, if mutations of the novel coronavirus will continue, it may significantly complicate the work on a vaccine.

“the Relatively stable genome of SARS-CoV-2 is a good indicator for the epidemic, because fewer mutations offers hope for rapid development of vaccines and antiviral drugs,” the scientists write.

They note that the detected mutation is less dangerous, and the genes that encode the spike protein of the virus and which allow it to attach to healthy cells, remains the same. Namely, these proteins are potential targets for many of the developed vaccines.

Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the group of so-called RNA viruses, which are characterized by high rates of mutations in the propagation period. This, according to scientists, can create difficulties with vaccine development. As an example, they cite seasonal flu, which almost every year there are new mutations, against which there are vaccinations last year.

“Because the virus continues to spread rapidly around the world and accumulate more genomic data, it is still necessary to carefully monitor the dynamics of evolution and mutations of SARS-CoV-2 — the authors note. — We have confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 has a relatively low frequency of mutations, but also proved that a new mutation with other immune characteristics and virulence has emerged”.

But so far the results are very encouraging, calm scientists. The genome of the novel coronavirus seems very stable, so far only discovered a significant mutation is less harmful than the original virus, and s-protein spikes, which the virus clings to the cell, it remains unchanged.