Almost a third of COVID-19 samples show mutation, but not worse disease, says WHO

The U.N. agency has so far collected 60,000 samples of the disease

Updated - July 04, 2020 09:00 am IST

Published - July 04, 2020 05:40 am IST - GENEVA

Soumya Swaminathan. Photo: Twitter/@doctorsoumya

Soumya Swaminathan. Photo: Twitter/@doctorsoumya

Almost 30% of genome sequencing data from samples of the COVID-19 virus collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) have shown signs of mutation, but there is no evidence this has led to more severe disease, a top WHO official said on Friday.

“I think it's quite widespread,” Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist, told Reuters on the sidelines of a briefing held by the U.N. journalists' association ACANU in Geneva.

The U.N. agency has so far collected 60,000 samples of the disease, she said.

Scientists at Scripps Research this month found that by April the mutated virus accounted for some 65% of cases submitted from around the world to a major database.

The genetic mutation in the new coronavirus, designated D614G, significantly increases its ability to infect cells and may explain why outbreaks in northern Italy and New York were larger than ones seen earlier in the pandemic, they found in a study.

Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, said at Friday's briefing the mutated strain had been identified as early as February and had been circulating in Europe and the Americas.

“So far, there is no evidence it leads to more severe disease,” she said.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.