We pulled the following from an article on sequencing the genome of COVID-19. It seems that researchers are hopeful the virus can be stopped. When is still the unknown. The link to the full article is at the end. We’ve highlighted with color what we find “good news”.
“While researchers caution they’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg, the tiny differences between the virus strains suggest shelter-in-place orders are working in some areas and that no one strain of the virus is more deadly than another. They also say it does not appear the strains will grow more lethal as they evolve.
“The virus mutates so slowly that the virus strains are fundamentally very similar to each other,” said Charles Chiu, a professor of medicine and infectious disease at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.
Different symptoms, same strains
COVID-19 hits people differently, with some feeling only slightly under the weather for a day, others flat on their backs sick for two weeks and about 15% hospitalized. Currently, an estimated 1% of those infected die. The rate varies greatly by country and experts say it is likely tied to testing rates rather than actual mortality.
Chiu says it appears unlikely the differences are related to people being infected with different strains of the virus. “The current virus strains are still fundamentally very similar to each other,” he said.
The COVID-19 virus does not mutate very fast. It does so eight to 10 times more slowly than the influenza virus, said Anderson, making its evolution rate similar to other coronaviruses such as Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
“It’s also not expected to spontaneously evolve into a form more deadly than it already is to humans. The SARS-CoV-2 is so good at transmitting itself between human hosts, said Andersen, it is under no evolutionary pressure to evolve.”
Shelter in place working in California
Chiu’s analysis shows California’s strict shelter in place efforts appear to be working.
“Over half of the 50 SARS-CoV-2 virus genomes his San Francisco-based lab sequenced in the past two weeks are associated with travel from outside the state. Another 30% are associated with health care workers and families of people who have the virus.”
“Only 20% are coming from within the community. It’s not circulating widely,” he said.