LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – A team led by New Mexico scientists says the strain of COVID-19 we are dealing with now, is much more contagious than the original version that arose in China. It can even infect someone again once they have recovered.
A new study spearheaded by Los Alamos National Labs shows the virus mutated and became stronger when it reached Europe in February. It spread to the U.S. from there, becoming the dominant strain worldwide. On top of the potential to reinfect, the newer strain also spread faster and creates more of a virus in the body.
According to the report, research on vaccines and treatments so far has been largely based on the genetic sequences of earlier strains and might no longer apply. The report does not indicate that the new strain is any more deadly with hospitalization rates remaining about the same.
The report 33-page report was published on bioRxiv, which is a website that researchers use to share their work before it is peer-reviewed. The Los Angeles Times recently cited the study, stating that the report was published in an effort to expedite collaborations with scientists who are in the process of working on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
The FDA approved the emergency use of remdesivir last week to treat the virus. Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug that is being used to treat patients with COVID-19.
Scientists say that a vaccine for the virus is most likely a year or more away.