New coronavirus strain ‘more contagious’, say researchers

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A group of international researchers say they have found a second strain of the coronavirus that is “more contagious”.

The research is yet to be peer reviewed and has divided the scientific community – some say it is impressive, others caution that the conclusions are yet to be proven and need to be treated with caution. However, the research has been posted online by the scientists from the US and UK to aid vaccine development.

The researchers concluded that the newer strain, the G-strain of SARS-CoV-2, was spreading faster and feared it would hamper efforts to create a vaccine. They said it appeared to have first emerged in either Europe or China in January, then spread to most US states and to Australia.

It quickly became the dominant variant in each region, they said, suggesting it may be more transmissible than the original D-strain, the ABC has reported.

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly said newer strains were not unexpected.

He told the ABC: “Whether they are more transmissible or not, that is a typical thing that happens to this type of virus that is spread from animals to become transmissible between humans.

“It does become generally more transmissible over time and less severe over time.”

Paper author Professor David Montefiori said the results showed researchers needed to be alert to mutations.

“I would say [coronavirus] is acquiring mutations that provide a fitness advantage sooner than we expected,” said Prof. Montefiori, who is also a director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research at Duke University medical centre in North Carolina.

He said further work to test the theories with cultures was underway, but that for this strain to spread “so rapidly and extensively”, it must be better at infecting people.

Professor Lisa Sedger, head of the viruses and cytokines research group at University of Technology Sydney, told the ABC the data in the paper was “impressive”.

“Data of this quality are not often available for human viruses,” said Prof. Sedger, adding that the information in the paper could “inform the type of vaccine that is most likely to work” and the approaches to avoid.

But University of Sydney viral evolution expert Professor Edward Holmes said he had reservations about the importance of the research.

“Will it impact anything important about how we respond to the virus? That’s unclear,” he said. “At the moment, I’m sceptical.”

Medical specialists explain that after an infection, the immune system can disrupt and prevent a second infection. But a new strain can undermine that immune response.

Prof. Montefiori said: “Our main concern is how it [the new strain] might impact the effectiveness of current vaccines.

“Will the vaccines be less effective against the new form and need to be modified to be equally effective against both forms?”

The researchers found preliminary evidence that people with the newer strain had higher “viral loads”, that is, there was more of the virus in their body, which they say would help explain why the new strain spread faster.

Professor Bill Hanage, from Harvard, said: “Right now, there are better ways of fighting the pandemic than worrying about different strains …”

Others say that studying the two strains in the lab is important. Barbara Brito Rodriguez, a viral geneticist from the University of Technology Sydney, said: “The only way to know how sequence data translates to virulence, and to transmission etc, is by actual laboratory experiments.”

The study was posted to BioRxiv, a site researchers use to rapidly share findings.

Read the full ABC article here.

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Total Comments: 33
  1. 0

    I thought they wanted us to get back to normal but this is just adding to the fear factor instead. Light blub moments there are many different Corona viruses like the common cold which they are still trying to find a vaccine for.

  2. 0

    Why am I not surprised? Because if you read up on viruses you will know they always continue to mutate, another scaremongering article by YLC’s we do not need this, why it is more important to look after your health and immune system and not rely on a wonder vaccine.

    • 0

      I am thinking along your lines too Incognito, YLC seems to be a doomsayer in lots of articles, and does appear a little TND-ish, this is a retiree forum and elderly people are already worried but this is twice in two or three days, that another frightening “maybe” story finds a headline , and scares lots of people!

    • 0

      I agree with both of you. I recently listed all the negative and ‘scary’ and doomsdayish articles they published in just three days and the list was considerable. And when the headline is more click bait than actual substance, they play on the fear factor. They are frequently light on facts and heavy on “we’re all doomed” sequelae.

      In this particular case, the research has not been reviewed, does not have the backing of many (if anyone) other than the authors and has not been reliably published. The best that can be said of it is that it may point to further research to substantiate their claims. The fact that a virus mutates is no secret – that’s why we have a new flu vaccine each year. To claim the mutation is more contagious than COVID-19 is fanciful right now given we still know relatively little of the natural histry of COVID-19.

    • 0

      Why are they fear mongering, because they work on the same principles as the ABC and the left wing press gallery. It is all about controversy and getting a headline, too bad if the truth suffers in the meantime.

  3. 0

    Agree with Retiring Well and Incognito
    More scaremongering from the left.
    Let people get back to work, what will be will be.

    • 0

      Why do you think it is from the left?, wouldn’t it be more likely from the right the ones who are in bed with big pharma?.

    • 0

      Incognito, it’s because anything ‘the right’s finds mentally challenging , inconvenient or difficult to deal with must come from the left. You see if we lived in a far right world everything would be just perfect, I mean look at Trump’s USA, Putin’s Russia or Saudi Arabia as examples of the right’s idea of paradise.

    • 0

      I had to stop reading it because they blast out with the headline and then the story is a nothing.
      Many topics many diferent occasions, constant mis truths coming from biased opinion makers, not stories.
      Including Donald Trump maligning, became a constant, now Trump may not be the most pleasant individual, but I don’t know him, I think all that is wrong with him, is that he is not an elitist politician , just a smart business man that thought he would have a shot and won! Frightened all the over privileged wealthy career pollies over there.

      I don’t think he has done anything massively bad, and I also think lots of the knockers don’t really know why they dislike him? That is another story.
      That is also what TND do, I thought YLC would be different, and generally has, until I noticed the fear-mongering which is also a constant, from the radical left, and how bad things are its the same with the over kill of climate change, as the climate, has changed on our planet since time began. Before fossil fuels were burnt.

      So I read a couple of lines of others and heaven help me, there is Trumps name! AGAIN!

      As for being in bed with Big Pharma, the fact of life is that everyone in business terms are in bed somewhere to raise money or invest money and to fight a terrible virus NOW!

      Why would you not be getting into the business bed you have to! With those who can help.
      Its like saying well we have a fire, but we will not ask for any water to put it out , it might look bad.
      How on earth do people believe things happen in this world, negotiation and money.
      I think we earthlings are doing alright with this dreadful pandemic, but fear-mongering is one thing that should be left out of it now.
      We all understand the dangers!

    • 0

      John, what do you mean by left leaning, they actually fell over the left cliff years ago.

  4. 0

    While this is not good news it was to be expected. If this virus makes smokers and heavy drinkers think more about what they are doing to their bodies it will have actually done some good. These people will suffer more and be more likely to die than those who live healthy lifestyles.

  5. 0

    If you live in NSW there is a website where you can put in your postcode and find out how many cases of Covid-19 are in your area.

  6. Profile Photo

    “is likely to develop” …..please stop worrying people unless the facts are certain!

  7. 0

    I heard about this earlier, It is another storyline of fear. We have A..B..C NOW WE GOT G STRAIN, CRIKEY i think I’ll stop reading.
    I suspect it is a story about all the different varieties of changes these virus’ have when transmitting and mutating, also the seriousness of each strain and contagiousness of each strain, vaccination etc, not peer-reviewed/ checked?
    And scientists putting it up for a discussion point, in the “aid for a vaccine” what does that mean? Is it a new danger, or its a new help?
    And its Sars-CoV-2???? That was on TV a few days back, don’t worry, at least its being looked into. If it is much more contagious then, is it as powerful? Very fear-inducing article.

  8. 0

    The article is depressing, because it just adds to our worry.
    There is a plus side to this knowledge though and that is to make us maintain our guard. We have done so well here in Australia to date that it would be easy to become complacent.
    This mutation or new virus spreads even more quickly and it’s important for us to know that since we are the most vulnerable.

    • 0

      I agree. People are already complacent demonstrated by opening up for Mother’s Day. Five people can visit mum in the morning and another five in the afternoon. Insane!
      I don’t think a lot are scared at all.

    • 0

      Which state are you referring to Paddington?

    • 0

      Qld! Thankfully we are in Victoria. But I have relatives and friends in Qld.

    • 0

      Paddington, guess what, Victoria is quickly turning into the laughing stock of Australia, due to the way their government has handled the crisis, with the meat works fiasco being the latest in a long line of blunders and cover ups. Wouldn’t go blowing your bags about them too loudly, they are bottom of the class.

    • 0

      Arbee, the Premiers of Victoria and Tasmania are following local medical advice. Do you not understand that Vic and Tas are in a different climatic region to regions in other states. When it is 15 degrees in Melbourne and Hobart it is mid to high 20s in Sydney and Brisbane and over 30 in Darwin. The meatworks outbreak in Vic is unfortunate, as is the outbreak at the aged care facility in NSW, the North West hospitals in Tas and the Ruby Princess, but these are not direct results of anything governments do or not do, they are the results of unfortunate human error.
      I can say I am very satisfied the the performance of the Victorian Government, as I am with the performance of the Federal Government. Both the Premier and the PM have shown good leadership. In hindsight some things could have been done better but all governments are learning as we go.

    • 0

      arbee, we are proud of our Victorian government and depending on where you are yours may not be protecting you as well. The Tasmanian premier is also doing a good job. Most actually are but a few are opening up too fast and too much.

  9. 0

    A young Australian couple were on a train from Bulgaria back to Germany where they work and caught the virus that way. They were young and fit yet suffered a very bad case. The wife was still ill over a month later and still testing positive. I wondered if they had a worse strain than our son here in Australia who experienced a moderate case and was not admitted to hospital like the wife in Germany.

    • 0

      Severity depends on viral load as much as anything. The higher the viral load the more severe the symptoms. Individual immune reaction also differs. Just because the young woman was sicker than your son is no indication of a more virulent strain.

  10. 0

    I agree, Incognito, If we are jabbed for every virus we won’t build up an immunity

    • 0

      I had a smallpox vaccination which I think was the only vaccination available when I was a child.
      I wish there had been more. I got MEASLES when I was very young. I lay in bed with a high fever for so long that when I finally got some strength back my mother had to hold me up to walk. I had to stay in the dark in case my eyes were damaged.
      Remember RUBELLA commonly known then as German measles. Pregnant women lived in fear of getting that for fear their baby would be born with ear, heart and brain problems.
      When I was older some of my friends got POLIO and were maimed for life. Some people got away with it lightly but it seems that they are feeling the effects later in life.

      My children’s nursery school was closed down because one child got TUBERCOLOSIS. Thankfully by then there was a test for it and a vaccine available. The unlucky child was subjected to a long course of treatment.
      I watched helplessly when a baby in a third world country died of SMALL POX. The poor little thing was covered in pustules. And you ignorant cosseted people stand by with anti vaccine campaigns and “building up Immunity”. Get real!

    • 0

      I forgot to add that I had WHOOPING COUGH,now known as Pertussis. You feel as though you are going to cough your heart out.
      I grew up in a healthy environment eating home grown veg and fruit, home made bread and cheese, and played barefoot outside for hours of every day.

    • 0

      Was not talking about all vaccines, just we cannot rely on some of them, and building up immunity does have some merit. But more importantly we need to get rid of pesticides and other toxins in our world, we have far too much which is effecting our health, not too mention the pollution. Lack of nutrition does play a part in some countries too.

    • 0

      I forgot to mention MUMPS. One of my children got that, consequently all of them missed school for weeks. Luckily my husband it when he was young because if he had caught it in adulthood, it could have not only been very ill but made infertile too. My grandchildren all got chicken pox before there was a vaccine. They were in a terrible state itching and scratching themselves almost raw. Unfortunately born babies whose mothers get it can be born with defects.
      Incidentally it’s related to SHINGLES, which generally affects older people and those who have had it will tell you it’s hell.
      So now Incognito would you like to tell us exactly what vaccines you think are bad.
      By this stage of our lives most of us do know about a healthy diet and exercise, so that advice is surplus.

    • 0

      Incognito, immunity is built from exposure to the pathogen which teaches the immune system how to fight it. Exposure is done on one of two ways: actual exposure which can result in permanent disability or death in a worst case scenario, or vaccination with an inert version of the pathogen which has the same immune response but without the catastrophic side effects. It is clear which option most thinking people would choose.

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