The huge number of active coronavirus infections offers plenty of opportunity for mutations to occur and new variants to arise.
Eoneren/E+ via Getty Images
When the coronavirus copies itself, there is a chance its RNA will mutate. But new variants must jump from one host to another, and the more infections there are, the better chance this will happen.
Evolution explains why the Delta variant spreads faster than the original Wuhan strain. It explains what we might see with future variants. And it suggests how we might step up public health measures.
Data from the UK, where the Delta variant is dominant, suggest many people with COVID-19 are experiencing cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose and a sore throat.
Sustained surveillance for disease outbreaks at global hot spots may be the key to preventing the next pandemic.
A more coordinated effort by scientists, stakeholders and community members will be required to stop the next deadly virus that’s already circulating in our midst.
Could SARS-CoV-2 evolve to dodge the vaccine?
Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Moment collection/Getty Images
As viruses are transmitted from person to person they are constantly mutating and replicating. Could the SARS-CoV-2 virus evolve to evade the new vaccines that have just been developed?
Today smallpox can only be found in deep freeze inside a few highly secured laboratories, like this one at the CDC in 1980.
The smallpox virus appears to have been with humanity for millennia before a global vaccination drive wiped it out. Current genome research suggests how smallpox spread and where it came from.
The US and its allies are demanding answers over how COVID-19 became a pandemic. But instead of pointing fingers at China, the inquiry should focus on scientific clues to help us thwart future disasters.
The steady rate of genetic changes lets researchers recreate how a virus has travelled.
Every time the virus copies itself it makes mistakes, creating a trail that researchers can use to build a family tree with information about where it’s traveled, and when.
A four-year-old female Malayan tiger has tested positive for COVID-19, with six other tigers and lions showing symptoms. It’s the first known case of a ‘wild’ animal catching the disease.
Watching bacteria and viruses duke it out, evolving to outwit each other.
UC San Diego
A core idea in molecular biology is that one gene codes for one protein. Now biologists have found an example of a gene that yields two forms of a protein – enabling it to evolve new functionality.
Delivering genetic material is a key challenge in gene therapy.
Invitation image created by Kstudio
One big challenge for gene therapies is delivering DNA or RNA safely to cells inside patients’ bodies. New nanoparticles could be an improvement over the current standard – repurposed viruses.
What can a single person’s flu infection tell you about how the virus changes around the world?
Xue and Bloom
New genetic technologies are letting us look at flu evolution right where it starts: within individual people, while they’re sick.