Virus research

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Some interesting research popped into the Banner email inbox this week which I thought worth sharing with you.

During the pandemic I have heard only the odd passing reference to SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – which also started in China and spread to more than 8,000 people worldwide and killed almost 800, 17 years ago.

Yet SARS is also a species of cornavirus and it is the virus Sars-Cov-2 which causes COVID-19.

But don’t take my word for it. The research I mentioned is being carried out by the University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research which has been trying to find out if the present virus has mutated into different types.

There have been suggestions that more than one type of SARS-CoV-2 was now circulating in the pandemic, with one strain being more aggressive and causing more serious illness than the other.

However, using analysis of SARS-CoV-2 virus samples from the pandemic, the Glasgow scientists have shown that only one type of the virus is currently circulating and their research has been published in the journal Virus Evolution.

Instead, it would appear that viruses, including the one causing COVID-19, naturally accumulate mutations – or changes – in their genetic sequence as they spread through populations. However, most of these changes will have no effect on the virus biology or the aggressiveness of the disease they cause.

But tracking these changes can help scientists better understand the virus pandemic and how COVID-19 is spreading in the community.