A team of US scientists led by US-based Los Alamos National Laboratory has identified a new, highly-potent strain of coronavirus that has spread globally and is more contagious than the virus in early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos or LANL) is a US Department of Energy’s national laboratory initially organized during World War II for the design of nuclear weapons.
According to the scientists who posted their report The 33-page report was posted Thursday on prepreint portal BioRxiv, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, the new strain appeared in February in Europe, migrated to the US East Coast and has been the dominant strain across the world since mid-March, according to a report in Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.
“In addition to spreading faster, it may make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease,” the authors warned.
The mutation affects the now infamous spikes on the exterior of the coronavirus, which allow it to enter human respiratory cells.
The authors said they felt an “urgent need for an early warning” so that vaccines manufacturers around the world will be prepared to take on the more deadly mutated strain.
The new strain’s dominance over its predecessors demonstrates that it is more infectious, though exactly why is still not known.