Health experts have said that two mutated variants of novel coronavirus might have merged their genes to form a new and heavily mutated strain of deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has caused a massive COVID19 pandemic. Earlier, a scientist has said that the B.1.429 strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has emerged in California, might have merged into a highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant, which has been found in the UK. If the findings of the scientist are validated it will mark the first event of recombination during the pandemic. It will be recorded as the first time when the novel coronavirus has come up with a recombinant strain of the deadly virus. However, the recombination events are not unusual for coronaviruses. The findings of this report have been announced at a meeting conducted by the New York Academy of Sciences. Dr. Bette Korber from the Los Alamos National Laboratory has chaired the meeting. Experts have said that viruses do not reproduce sexually like most multicellular creatures. They have said that the same types of viruses can swap their genetic material while infecting cells. Similar viruses with some genetic changes can swap similar pieces of their genetic code while replicating. The new recombinant virus has mirror parts of two viruses. If these two viruses have diverse mutations, the new virus will contain both mutations inherited from the original two viruses.
Dr. Alfred Sommer from John Hopkins University has said that such types of recombination events occur all the time but they are barely noticeable unless the two viruses bring up genetic changes, which are more contagious or can cause more severe diseases. He has claimed that as yet it might not be a case of recombination. Dr. Georges Benjamin, the director of the American Public Health Association as well has supported Sommer’s take and said that he has not come across any evidence of a recombinant version of the virus. He has said that it will be dangerous if the virus continues to replicate with these changes, which might affect its ability to infect people. Continuous replication might affect its power to spread from person to person as well. Benjamin has claimed that because it contains the mutation from two different viruses, it will not acquire the disease traits of the two viruses. However, it depends on time, said the expert. He has said that experts need to track the mutations and compare them with real clinical findings in people.
Dr. Russell Medford, who is the chairman of the Center for Global Health Innovation and Global health Crisis Coordination center has said that recombination shows a mechanism, which is used by the SARS-CoV-2 virus for mutations to form new viruses, which might have deadly properties. He has noted that recombination can fetch many mutations at a time from different strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into one new mutant virus. It can create new coronavirus strains, which might be more contagious due to different types of mutations. Experts have seen that coronaviruses are unusually susceptible to mutating but the B.1.1.7 strain has been proved to be quite deadly. It has led to an increase in COVID19 cases in the UK.