A reader asks about coronavirus mutations

Friday, August 14, 2020 - 07:51 in Biology & Nature

Viral heritage Lab experiments are needed to see if mutations in the new coronavirus change how the virus infects cells, Erin Garcia de Jesus reported in “The new coronavirus is mutating” (SN: 6/20/20, p. 7). Reader Roger W. Yoerges asked if a person could be infected with multiple forms, or variants, of a virus at once. He wondered if that would allow very infectious variants to spread more. That’s a fantastic question, G­arcia de Jesus says. “Given how RNA viruses replicate, their progeny typically are different from the parent viruses,” she says. During an infection, progeny can form groups of viral particles that have a mix of mutations. Some rare variants within a group may have mutations that change how those viruses work, including how they infect cells, Garcia de Jesus says. Those mutations, whether good or bad for the virus, don’t guarantee that variants with the mutations will spread to the next host....

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