Three different strands of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, have been identified by Australian researchers as the pandemic spreads around the world.
Of the 800-plus known mutations of the virus, a team at the University of Tasmania has been able to identify three specific genetic “lineages”.
The first was the virus that made the leap from animals to humans, while the second became common at the height of the outbreak in China.
The third strand of the virus, which may have made COVID-19 more contagious, emerged in Europe and is now the most prevalent across the world.
Lead researcher Nick Fountain-Jones said understanding how the virus evolves and mutates is crucial for the development of effective vaccines.
“Some mutations allow the virus to be more easily transmitted, but most will be of no consequence,” he said.
The researchers found no evidence that infection by one lineage may make a person sicker than an infection by another.
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