A new mutation of the novel coronavirus may make the disease spread much faster, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday.
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“The data is showing there’s a single mutation that makes the virus be able to replicate better and maybe have high viral loads,” Fauci said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The viral load refers to the amount of a virus that is found inside a person.
Over time, all viruses change their genetic code to ensure they survive once they replicate and infect an individual.
“Viruses mutate naturally as part of their life cycle,” the scientific project manager for the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium, a new project that tracks the virus in the United Kingdom, Ewan Harrison had said in March.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that its team continues to track the genetic sequence of the coronavirus around the world to identify any mutations.
However, the new data has not yet shown whether the new mutation will make the virus more severe, according to Fauci.
“We don’t have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not. It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible,” he said.