Coronavirus has undergone mutation into two distinct strains, and one of them is far more aggressive than the other, according to scientists. This development may slow global attempts to develop a viable vaccine.
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Coronavirus: "L" and "S" types
Researchers at Peking University's School of Life Sciences and the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai witnessed the deadly virus evolve into two major lineages — called "L" and "S" types.
The "S-type" is the older, milder and less infectious type, while the evolved "L-type" spreads more rapidly, and presently accounts for roughly 70% of cases. While the L strain seemed to be more prevalent than the S strain, the S-type of the coronavirus is the ancestral version, reports The Guardian.
Genetic analysis of a man residing in the U.S. who was confirmed infected with coronavirus on Jan. 21 demonstrated to scientists that double-infection is possible.
In other words, anyone can be infected with both types.
Early origin of mutation
The scientists who carried out the genetic analysis used 103 samples of the virus, taken from patients in Wuhan and other cities. This suggests that both the L and S strains emerged early in the early days of the coronavirus, according to The Guardian.
It's important to note that all viruses mutate over time, and the virus causing COVID-19 is no exception. In other words, while it's natural to be dismayed, this was and is an expected development.
How widespread it ultimately becomes depends on the evolutionary process of natural selection — the types capable of propagating fastest and most efficiently within the human body achieve the most "success."
There are no further updates as of yet, but be sure to return here for the latest developments on the increasingly-global spread of the deadly coronavirus.