Dr. Fauci Says This Is Why the Latest COVID Mutation Worries Him

All viruses mutate as they spread, but the most recent change in the novel coronavirus is concerning.

circle

The coronavirus has kept the science community on their toes with everything from new symptoms to finding a safe and reliable vaccine. But as viruses tend to do, SARS-CoV-2 itself has changed in the months since it began spreading around the globe. Now, Anthony Fauci, MD, says that there's something in particular about the latest COVID mutation that worries him: "It might be a bit more transmissible." Read on to find out how, and for more from Fauci, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said the 4 Words You've Been Waiting to Hear.

During a video interview with students and faculty from College of the Holy Cross on Oct. 6, Fauci was asked about the different strains of the novel coronavirus that now exist and whether or not the mutations had made it more virulent or harder to develop an effective vaccine against.

He explained that the latest COVID mutation could mean the virus might now be able to spread more easily, saying that "there is the assumption, although not completely proven yet, that if anything this is more transmissible."

an african american woman coughing into her hand
iStock

"When the scientists examined [the new mutation], they found that that new strain—which is now prevalent throughout the world [after] it kind of bumped the original strain out—and in vitro, not in a person yet—replicates better and binds more efficiently to the receptors on a variety of cells that were grown in culture," Fauci explains.

But the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) also had a bit of good news, assuring "there are not more virulent strains out there."

"Viruses, when they permeate society, rarely become more virulent. Generally they become less virulent as they adapt themselves with greater transmissibility," Fauci explained. "I just think what you're going to see is that it might be a bit more transmissible, at least according to the receptor binding, but we have to look at that in a more physiological way."

RELATED: For more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Fauci's comments back up recent findings that the newly mutated strain of COVID-19 is likely more contagious, although less deadly than the original. Scientists even think that the mutated virus could help produce better immune responses among patients. The strain also isn't so radically altered that it makes it impossible to vaccinate against.

The mutation "is making the particles more infectious," Jeremy Luban, MD, a virologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, told the journal Nature. "We need to keep our eyes open for additional changes."

Now, scientists say they need more experiments that replicate real-world transmission to verify these assumptions about the latest COVID mutation. And for more on the virus's movement, check out These Are the States Where COVID Deaths Are Rising Right Now.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Zachary Mack
Zachary covers beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He's the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in New York City and is a Certified Cicerone. Read more
Filed Under
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE