Three coronavirus strains are believed to account for most of the world’s cases.
By Aaron Sull, World Israel News
The coronavirus may be much deadlier than originally thought.
A recent study by Professor Li Lanjuan from China’s Zhejiang University has found the ability of the coronavirus to mutate has been vastly underestimated, reported the South China Morning Post.
In a three month period beginning in January, Lanjuan tested how efficiently 30 coronavirus strains, taken from 11 patients in Zhehang, could infect and kill human cells. She found that 19 of them mutated to overcome immune system resistance.
Coronavirus strains that did not mutate still caused two middle-aged patients to become severely ill. Although both are now stable, the older of the two needed treatment in an intensive care unit.
“Drug and vaccine development, while urgent, need to take the impact of these accumulating mutations into account to avoid potential pitfalls,” a statement by Lanjuan and her team said, as quoted by the Chinese news outlet.
Lanjuan, considered to be the country’s leading coronavirus expert, was a major influence in the government’s decision in January to lock down the city of Wuhan, reported China’s Global People. Wuhan was ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic.
On January 17, Lanjuan heard that medical staff in Wuhan had been infected with an unknown pneumonia-like disease. After visiting Wuhan and discovering that it was the coronavirus and human-to-human transmission was possible, she immediately contacted top government officials and urged them to put Wuhan under lockdown, the report said.
Meanwhile, Cambridge University researchers believe that three coronavirus strains account for most of the world’s cases. The most aggressive strain has been blamed for causing the devastating number of coronavirus infections in Italy, Spain, and New York.
Worldwide, more than 2.45 million people have been infected with coronavirus and more than 160,000 people have died from the deadly disease.