Eight Strains of Coronavirus Worldwide

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Sarah Peddie

Scientists around the world have confirmed that there are now eight strains of SARS-CoV-2 worldwide but the virus strains are very similar to each other. 

With the use of advanced technology to sequence the virus quickly from test samples, there are signs that there are only very small differences between the strains. 

No strains of the virus are becoming more dangerous as it continues to mutate. 

COVID-19 is asymptomatic or mild in up to 80% of people who get the virus but pneumonia, respiratory failure and death in 5-6% of cases overall if not treated. 

If the virus were to mutate and become more lethal then it would make it more difficult for researchers to develop a vaccine based on viral antigens. 

If we compare it to the seasonal flu - which has a vaccine but has to be updated every single year because of the many rapid mutations that have led to several strains of influenza. Scientists must look at which strains are floating around most commonly to ensure the vaccine contains those strains. 

With viruses such as varicella and measles - they mutate very slowly and immunising vaccines can offer years of immunity. SARS-CoV-2 appears to be more like these viruses than the flu. 

Despite study showing that the virus is mutating around every 15 days, the mutations are benign and useful to uncover how the virus is spreading.

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