Coronavirus: A Ray of Hope, by Sam Blanchard.
The coronavirus has mutated into at least two separate strains since the outbreak began in December, according to Chinese scientists.
Researchers say there are now two types of the same coronavirus infecting people – and most people seem to have caught the most aggressive form of it. …
The team of experts from Beijing and Shanghai said 70 per cent of people have caught the most aggressive strain of the virus but that this causes such bad illness that it has struggled to spread since early January.
Now an older, milder strain seems to be becoming more common.
L has become less common as the outbreak has gone on, with it apparently struggling to spread since early January, while S has become more common.
S is less aggressive but is thought to be the first strain of the virus which made the jump into humans and is continuing to infect new patients.
This could be because the disease it causes is less severe, meaning people carry it for longer before ending up in hospital, increasing the risk of them passing it on.
In the paper the researchers, led by Professor Jian Lu and Dr Jie Cui, said: ‘Whereas the L type was more prevalent in the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan, the frequency of the L type decreased after early January 2020.
‘Human intervention may have placed more severe selective pressure on the L type, which might be more aggressive and spread more quickly. …
The scientists’ explanation suggests that, because the L strain surged at the beginning of the outbreak and made people so ill, those who caught it were quickly diagnosed and isolated, meaning it had less opportunity to spread widely. …
The S strain may be winning because it causes milder symptoms so patients take longer to realise they’re sick, increasing the risk of them passing it on.
So the far deadlier strain may be dying out precisely because it is too deadly. People are immobilized or die before it is passed on as much. This often happens with deadlier diseases.
However, we will all end up catching the milder form eventually.