Research discussion: is Corona really getting weaker?
Although the number of corona cases is increasing, experts are no longer reporting serious illnesses. Has the coronavirus changed?
- The number of new corona infections is still high – but the death rate is not rising that much
- There can be many reasons for this, the average age of the newly infected is significantly lower than in March
- A new mutation of the virus has been discovered that allows it to spread faster
- The question of whether Corona is getting weaker is discussed in research. The fact is that viruses are constantly changing as they multiply
The number of new infections with the novel corona virus has been in Germany for days consistently above the 1000 mark. The experts from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) are “Very worried“. And the politicians at the federal and state levels are also warning of a renewed uncontrollable spread. What doesn’t seem to fit into the picture is the development of the death rate.
From August 12 to 18, the RKI reported only 35 corona deaths. And also with the severe disease courses there is no news of sharp climbs or slow filling intensive care units in German clinics. Read here:
According to the RKI, most corona infections take place here.
Corona: is the virus really getting weaker?
In this context, a statement by the Essen virologist Prof. Ulf Dittmer in the “Bild” newspaper. He explained that the genome of the virus could have changed in such a way that it brings weaker disease courses with it. It is possible that the virus will only trigger a cold at some point in the course of further so-called mutations. Read here: Current news about the coronavirus in the news ticker
One day later, the head of virology at the Essen University Hospital felt it was his duty to comment on the statements he had quoted. It was shown in abbreviated form, said Dittmar to focus.de. In the conversation with “Bild” he also stated that one does not know whether a change in Sars-CoV-2 would lead to weaker disease courses. Even if there are signs worldwide that nothing is confirmed.
Corona: What is confirmed in terms of virus change?
The fact is that viruses are constantly changing as they multiply. How this happens with Sars-CoV-2 can even be traced.
- Scientists upload the genome sequences to the Gisaid platform in order to share them. Almost 60,000 genetic data are now stored there.
- Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, over 100 mutations recorded in the virus genome.
“On average, the virus mutates every two weeks,” said Richard Neher from the University of Basel at a press conference at the end of June. Read here:
Christian Drosten explains why Corona could become more harmless.
Most virus mutations are isolated cases. But there are also variants that are spreading. According to a study published in the specialist journal “Cell”, the corona mutation D614 has spread across Europe to North America, Oceania and Asia worldwide. On May 18, almost 80 percent of the Sars-CoV-2 gene sequences stored by the scientists on Gisaid are said to have carried this variant.
Corona pandemic: G614 may have given the virus an advantage
According to the study, G614 was probably also able to spread so quickly because the mutation gave the virus an advantage. Presumably she got to one increased infectivity The researchers led by Bette Korber from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico (USA) write. The variant G614 can penetrate the human cell better.
According to the study, there is so far no evidence that this mutation also makes the coronavirus more dangerous or harmless. Friedemann Weber, Director of the Institute for Virology at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, at least at the end of June, thought it was possible that Sars-CoV-2 would at least not become more dangerous. The virus is already well adapted to people, “there is not much room for improvement,” Weber told journalists. Current RKI case numbers and corona reproduction factor
For the authors of the study published in “Cell”, an increased mortality rate is unlikely. This is “not in the interest” of the virus, they write. The greatest chance of spreading is when the hosts become infected without dying. (kai)
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