1. 50% virus strains in India have ‘Spike mutation’ that’s scar

  • Why is one particular mutation—identified as D614G—is of “urgent concern“?
  • Why is coronavirus mutating very slowly?
  • Does mutation affect vaccine development?

UPSC Can list these Questions under

GS paper 2 ( Issues related to health)

What is the context about?

  • US Scientists have warned that a mutation called D614G in the Spike protein region of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — which causes Covid-19 — “is of urgent concern,” as it makes the virus more contagious.
  • And, in this context, an analysis of strains of the virus in India, has shown that nearly 50% of them have the new mutation, while globally, nearly two-thirds of all strains have displayed this mutation.

 Why is one particular mutation—identified as D614G—is of “urgent concern“?

  • According to the researchers, one particular mutation—identified as D614G—is of “urgent concern“ because of its dominant form.
  • The researchers have proposed increased transmissibility of the virus due to the mutation.
  • D614G is increasing in frequency at an alarming rate, indicating a fitness advantage relative to the original Wuhan strain that enables more rapid spread.

Why is coronavirus mutating very slowly?

  • The new coronavirus is an RNA virus: a collection of genetic material packed inside a protein shell.
  • Once an RNA virus makes contact with a host, it starts to make new copies of itself that can go on to infect other cells.
  • SARS-CoV-2 is no exception, and over the past few months it has been mutating.
  • But the virus has mutated at a very slow pace. And when it does mutate, the new copies aren’t far off from the original virus.

Does mutation affect vaccine development?

  • Experts have suggested it will not. Mutations, to an extent, will not affect vaccine development.
  • Mutations aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Every virus mutates; it’s part of the virus life cycle. Those shifts and changes aren’t always a big deal.
  • In some cases, those mutations may actually lead to a weaker virus.
  • Mutations are not likely to make potential vaccines ineffective, as all sub-types of the virus have the same enzymes. Also, it has been in India for three months, and it does not mutate very fast.