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The Coronavirus Variants Don’t Seem to Be Highly Variable So Far

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SARS-CoV-2 may be settling into a limited set of mutations March 24, 2021


"No doubt you’ve heard about the novel coronavirus variants that are evolving around the world. There now appear to be more than a dozen versions of SARS-CoV-2, which are of varying degrees of concern because some are linked to increased infectivity and lethality while others are not. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by this diversity and to fear that we’ll never achieve herd immunity. Yet evidence is growing that these variants share similar combinations of mutations. This may not be the multifront war that many are dreading, with an infinite number of new viral versions.

I am an evolutionary microbiologist who studies how bacteria and viruses adapt to new environments or hosts. Like many microbiologists, my colleagues and I have turned our attention to understanding how SARS-CoV-2 is evolving adaptations for reproducing and transmitting in humans. Our favorite laboratory method is experimental evolution, where we grow multiple populations of microbes started from the same strain under identical conditions for weeks or months. We study problems like how antibiotic resistance evolves and how infections become chronic. The power of this method is that using multiple populations allows us to “replay the tape of life” and study how repeatable and ultimately predictable evolution might be."

More in the article here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-coronavirus-variants-dont-seem-to-be-highly-variable-so-far/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=today-in-science&utm_content=link&utm_term=2021-03-25_top-stories&spMailingID=69875788&spUserID=NTAzMDg3NDk0MDIzS0&spJobID=2082829336&spReportId=MjA4MjgyOTMzNgS2

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