THE coronavirus has now mutated into at least eight different strains, as more than a million people worldwide are infected.
Researchers say monitoring how the virus evolves helps determine how it spreads, too.
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Thousands of virus genetic sequences have been uploaded to the open NextStrain database which shows how the virus migrates and divides into new subtypes.
Researchers say the data shows that the coronavirus mutates on average every 15 days, according to National Geographic.
The latest figures show that there have been just over a million people infected with the coronavirus with 54,198 deaths.
NextStrain co-founder Trevor Bedford said the mutations were so small that no single strain is more deadly than another.
The researchers also believe that the strains will not become more deadly as they evolve.
Bedford told National Geographic, “These mutations are completely benign and useful as a piece of the puzzle to find out how the virus spreads. “
He added that different strains of the virus can track transmission and its extent, indicating whether self-isolation policies are having an impact.
“We will be able to tell how much less transmission we are seeing and answer the question,” Can we get our foot off the gas? Bedford said.
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Charles Chiu, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, told USA Today that the strains were “traceable” and “we have the ability to do genomic sequencing almost in real time to see which strains or lines are circulating. “
Most cases on the West Coast of the United States have been linked to a strain first identified in Washington State, to three mutations of the first known strain, while on the East Coast, the virus appears to have originated from China to Europe and then to New York, according to USA Today.
Kristian Andersen, a professor at Scripps Research, said the maps show only a snapshot of the full spread of the virus.
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Andersen told USA Today, “Remember, we are seeing a tiny glimpse of the much larger pandemic.
“We currently have half a million cases described, but perhaps 1,000 genomes sequenced. So there are a lot of lines that we miss. “
Last month, the Sun reported that the coronavirus had “mutated” into two strains, the most aggressive infecting 70% of patients.
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