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Current Affairs

Transmissible Coronavirus mutation

Date: 03 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is constantly mutating, but one mutation in particular has caught the eye of researchers for its abundance. Named D614G, this mutation has been found more transmissible than most others.

 

Background

All viruses mutate to adapt to the barriers that humans put up. RNA viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 mutate slowly as they require a host (human cell) in order to replicate.

 

Details

  • Until now, 12,000 mutations have been documented in over 3.2 crore cases globally. One mutation has been found the most widespread.

  • It was first noticed in China and Germany, but gained attention when it cropped up in several cases across Europe, and eventually in the US, Canada, Australia, and India.

  • In this mutation, glycine (G) replaces aspartic acid (D) in the 614th position in the amino acid. Hence the mutation came to be referred as ‘D614G’.

  • The amino acids where mutation occurs are located in the spike protein of the virus. The spike proteins bind with the ACE2 receptor on the human cell and gains entry.

  • It is the peptides in the spike protein that lock with the ACE2 receptor. In D614G mutation, two of the three peptides open up, making chances of entry into human cell higher.

  • Because its nature allows a better chance of entering a host cell than other mutated strains, D614G has a higher rate of transmission.

  • A virus mutates every time it replicates in the human cell to adapt and survive. This mutation is helping the virus do exactly that.

  • Whether the mutation can cause death, or can be tackled by vaccines is not fully known. Some studies have indicated it does not lead to severe infection in the lungs.

  • The Pfizer vaccine’s German trial has shown promising results against the D614G strain. The mutation may not reduce a vaccine’s effectiveness against it.