Zhejiang University professor Li Lanjuan says he found previously unreported deadly virus mutations in a group of patients with whom she worked.
The South China Morning Post reports Professor Lanjuan’s claim that laboratory evidence shows that some mutations are more lethal than other strains of the virus.
Publishing their findings on Sunday, Professor Lanjuan and his team suggest: “Sars-CoV-2 has acquired mutations capable of substantially changing its pathogenicity. “
The scientists made their discovery by working with COVID-19 patients from Hangzhou in eastern Zhejiang province and testing the speed at which cells could be infected and killed by viral strains isolated from patients.
Of the 11 patients tested, the deadliest viral strain is the same as the strain found in patients across Europe, the newspaper said.
While a milder strain matches those found in less affected areas of the United States like Washington State.
The most common strain in New York – one of the most affected regions in the United States – is believed to be the same as the most deadly strain found in Europe.
While some of the “milder” strains also drop two of the 11 seriously ill Hangzhou patients, Professor Li and his team hope their results may help explain why some areas have been affected worse than others and why some patients respond better to certain treatments.
“The development of drugs and vaccines, although urgent, must take into account the impact of these accumulated mutations … to avoid potential pitfalls,” said the professor and her team.
Professor Lanjuan is a leading Chinese scientist on the coronavirus epidemic – and has been recognized as the first scientist to suggest that Wuhan, the center of the global epidemic, should be locked up.
The virus has had a variable impact worldwide, with the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy and Spain among the most affected countries.
Germany and New Zealand are among the least affected countries – while Sweden has had low infections and deaths despite resistance to the lockout procedures seen in most other parts of the world.
At the same time, minority groups have been shown to be disproportionately affected by the virus and men are more likely to die than women if they contract the virus.