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The deadly pandemic continues to sweep across the world and in the UK the death toll has surpassed more than 44,000. But new scientists have discovered a terrifying new variant.
A mutation of Sars-CoV-2 has reportedly established itself worldwide and can infect human cells more easily than the original virus.
Published in the journal Cell, the study found the mutation with the code D614G could be more contagious.
This mutated strand was found to be more common among virus samples from Europe and North America.
Scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Duke University in California and the University of Sheffield teamed up to analyse genome sequences.
They found the mutated variant forms more functioning spike proteins meaning it infects more cells.
After some criticism, researchers analysed data from 999 British patients with the D614G variant.
They discovered that although the variant carried more virus particles, it did not change the severity of the disease.
Erica Ollmann Saphire, of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, said it appears to be a more powerful virus.
It is common for a virus to change over time and random errors occur when the genome reproduces itself.
Anthony Fauci, who sits on the White House coronavirus task force, said it is still uncertain whether the variant will trigger a serious illness.
Nathan Grubaugh, of the Yale School of Public Health, said the mutation changes little for humans.
He said he does not expect D614G to change their control measures or “worsen individual infections”.
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Researchers claim coronavirus with the D614G mutation spread accidentally in Europe as it was the first variant to reach the continent.
The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in Wuhan, in China, and has since spread around the world.
China has continued to deny the virus originated there but recently Beijing saw a new outbreak of the deadly virus.
Last month, more than 100 people were tested positive for the deadly virus and the Xinfadi food market was considered to be the source of the outbreak.
Railway services were cancelled until at least July 7 with schools, sports centres, swimming pools and gyms all suspended.
The new outbreak marked the most serious China has seen since February and was on the second highest emergency level alert.
Chinese state newspapers reported the virus was identified on surfaces preparing salmon.
This is despite experts saying that the fish itself is unlikely to carry COVID-19.
Beijing supermarkets removed all salmon from their shelves.
However, traces of the virus from the food market may have come from Europe.
Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention told CGTN last month: “It clearly indicates the virus strain is different from what it was two months ago.
“The virus strain is the major epidemic strain in European countries.
“So it is from outside China brought to Beijing.”
Though the coronavirus outbreak was first spotted in Wuhan, the curve appeared to have been flattened before the cases in Beijing emerged.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg
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