A specific mutation in the new coronavirus can significantly increase its ability to infect cells, according to a study by U.S. researchers. The research may explain why early outbreaks in some parts of the world did not end up overwhelming health systems as much as other outbreaks in New York and Italy, according to experts at Scripps Research. The mutation, named D614G, increased the number of “spikes” on the coronavirus – which is the part that gives it its distinctive shape. Those spikes are what allows the virus to bind to and infect cells.
“The number—or density—of functional spikes on the virus is 4 or 5 times greater due to this mutation,” said Hyeryun Choe, one of the senior authors of the study. The researchers say that it is still unknown whether this small mutation affects the severity of symptoms of infected people, or increases mortality. The researchers conducting lab experiments say that more research, including controlled studies – widely considered a gold standard for clinical trials, needs to be done to confirm their findings from test-tube experiments.
Scientists Target Blood Clots in COVID-19 Patients
A new drug that could prevent the formation of deadly blood clots in Covid-19 patients is set to be trialed in the UK, as scientists continue the search for an effective treatment against the virus. Some 60 patients are to take part in the trial for TRV027, a molecule that targets specific immune responses that are thought to drive severe illness in those suffering from coronavirus.
A third of people hospitalised with Covid-19 develop dangerous blood clots, which can prove fatal.Scientists believe that hormone imbalances in the blood triggered by SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, lead to the formation of these clots.The trial, conducted by the British Heart Foundation and scientists at Imperial College London, will follow hospitalised patients for eight days during a critical period when intensive care, and often mechanical ventilation, is needed.
Record Spikes in New Coronavirus Cases, Hospitalizations Sweep Parts of U.S
New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in record numbers swept through more U.S. states, including Florida and Texas, as most push ahead with reopening and President Donald Trump plans an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Alabama reported a record number of new cases for the fourth day in a row on Sunday. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina all had record numbers of new cases in the past three days, according to a Reuters tally.
Many state health officials partly attribute the increase to gatherings over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in late May. In Louisiana, which had been one of the earlier virus hot spots, new cases were again on the rise with over 1,200 – the most there since May 21. Nationally, there were over 25,000 new cases reported on Saturday, the highest tally for a Saturday since May 2, in part due to a significant increase in testing over the past six weeks. Perhaps more troubling for health officials, many of these states are also seeing record hospitalizations – a metric not affected by increased testing.