Scientists fear coronavirus maybe adapting to humans

Scientists have found evidence for mutations in some strains of the coronavirus that suggest the pathogen may be adapting to humans after spilling over from bats. The spike mutations are rare at the moment but Martin Hibberd, professor of emerging infectious diseases and a senior author on the study, said their emergence highlights the need for global surveillance of the virus so that more worrying changes are picked up fast. We need to keep an eye on it and make sure that any mutations don’t invalidate any of these approaches.” Studies of the virus revealed early on that the shape of its spike protein allowed it to bind to human cells more efficiently than Sars, a related virus that sparked an outbreak in 2002. The difference may have helped the latest coronavirus infect more people and spread rapidly around the world. When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. Where people come together in crowds, you are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has COIVD-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre (3 feet). This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu andCOVID-19. Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority. Keep up to date on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities. Local and national authorities are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly after touching any frequently-touched surface or object, including coins or banknotes. Scientists will be concerned if more extensive mutations in the spike protein arise, not only because they may alter how the virus behaves. Other potential therapies, such as synthetic antibodies that home in on the spike protein, could beless effective, too. “Even if these mutations are not important for vaccines, other mutations might be and we need to maintain our surveillance so we are not caught out by deploying a vaccine that only works against some strains.” The scientists analysed 5,349 coronavirus genomes that have been uploaded to two major genetics databases since the outbreak began. By studying the genetic makeup of the viruses, the scientists worked out how it has diversified into different strains and looked for signs that it was adapting to its human host. In an unpublished study that has yet to be peer reviewed, the researchers identified two broad groups of coronavirus that have now spread globally. The study shows that, until January, one group of coronaviruses in China escaped detection because they had a mutation in the genetic region that early tests relied on. Last month, an international team of scientists used genetic analyses to show that the coronavirus likely originated in bats and was not made in a lab as some conspiracy theorists have claimed.