WHO Finally Has Some Good News About Coronavirus
This new finding about COVID-19 is the best news we've heard about the virus in a while.
The potential for COVID-19 to mutate and create a much worse second wave has been a common fear among infectious disease experts and the general community. If the coronavirus were to mutate, it would make controlling and understanding the spread much more challenging. However, the good news is that it seems COVID-19 is not currently mutating into a more menacing disease.
RNA viruses—like COVID-19—are a collection of genetic material packed inside a protein shell, and they are generally prone to mutations. At the beginning of the coronavirus, experts found that the coronavirus was in fact changing but very slowly. "The sequences of the original isolates from China are very close to those in viruses circulating in the U.S. and the rest of the world," John Rose, PhD, told Healthline. Since RNA viruses are known to alter over time, the best we could hope for is that the changes are not swift or significant. Original worries that COVID-19 would become more transmissible seem to be unfounded thus far.
A study out of University College London found that there was "no evidence at this stage for the emergence of more transmissible lineages of SARS-CoV-2 due to recurrent mutations." Additionally, in a World Health Organization (WHO) briefing on Jun. 3, infectious disease epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD, said, "There are normal changes in this virus that one would expect over time. None of these changes so far indicate that the virus itself is changing in terms of its ability to transmit or to cause more severe disease." This means what we have learned about the disease still stands, and there are not any new threats on the horizon.
However, Kerkhove expressed her concern during the briefing that the number of coronavirus cases could increase as people begin to get quarantine fatigue. "People grow tired. It's very difficult to keep up all of these measures, and we must remain strong and vigilant to have the government fully engaged and people fully engaged as these lockdowns are lifted," said Kerkhove. She urged that stay-at-home orders must be lifted slowly and cautiously to prevent a spike in cases.
So while infectious disease experts aren't currently worried about COVID-19 mutations, they are concerned about the rapid rate at which neighborhoods are reopening and dropping safety measures. Continuing to wear your mask and adhere to social distancing will help keep the curve flat in your town. And to learn why COVID-19 cases are spiking in certain regions, check out The Real Reason Why Coronavirus Numbers Are Surging in Some States.