The country’s leading expert on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned yesterday that the coronavirus has mutated into something that can be even more infectious. “The data is showing there’s a single mutation that makes the virus be able to replicate better and maybe have high viral loads,” the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association‘s Dr. Howard Bauchner. “We don’t have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not; it just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible.”
The possibility of a more infectious coronavirus comes when America is reeling from a spike in cases. On July 2nd alone, the country registered a record 55,595 cases—a 90% 14-day change in the wrong direction. The U.S. has 2.7 million confirmed cases, more than anywhere else in the world.
A More Infectious Coronavirus
“Researchers from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Duke University in North Carolina partnered with the University of Sheffield’s COVID-19 Genomics UK research group to analyze genome samples published on GISAID, an international resource for sharing genome sequences,” reports ScienceAlert. “They found that the current variant, called ‘D614G,’ makes a small but potent change in the ‘spike’ protein that protrudes from the surface of the virus, which it uses to invade and infect human cells.”
The researchers estimate it’s three to six times more likely to cause infection. “It seems likely that it’s a fitter virus,” said Erica Ollmann Saphire, one of the lead authors working out of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology.
Fauci Worried About “Spike in Cases”
Fauci gave the interview on the same day he discussed the rise in cases—and his worry about them. “What we’ve seen over the last several days is a spike in cases that is way beyond the worst spikes that we’ve seen. That is not good news,” he said during an interview with BBC News that aired Thursday. “We’ve got to get that under control, or we risk an even greater outbreak to the United States”
“Now all you have to do is take a look at the news at night and you see people congregating at bars without masks, congregating in different types of groups that are well beyond the recommended number of people,” he said. “What happens when you do that and you don’t wear a mask? You get the kind of outbreaks we’re seeing.”
He mentioned, as he has previously, young people being responsible for some of the spread. Speaking to younger Americans, he said, “If you are infected, it is likely you will infect someone else who will infect someone else, who then might infect a vulnerable person. Then you get into very serious consequences.”
As for yourself: wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.