Early research indicates mutated coronavirus, similar to SARS

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Researchers said they identified a mutation in samples from patients who were tested for COVID-19 that could indicate that the virus is weakening and that could reflect a similar genetic mutation that occurred during the epidemic severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 and 2004, according to an accepted manuscript of a study published in the Journal of Virology on May 1. Researchers at the University of Arizona examined 383 samples of people who had tested for COVID-19 (five found positive) and had used next-generation sequencing to identify mutations in these five genomes. “Similar deletions in the SARS-CoV-2 genomes are emerging, especially in the ORF8 gene which could potentially reduce the fitness of the virus,” the researchers wrote. They also discovered that many of the first cases in Arizona appeared to originate in Europe, not Wuhan, China, where the virus was first identified.

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