A study that was pre-published on Wednesday indicates that a coronavirus mutation is causing the virus to be more contagious, a study authored by the Houston Methodist Hospital found. The study, however, concluded that the virus is not more potent.
The study examined 5,000 COVID-19 strains from the Houston metro area. The study found very two distinct waves over the summer.
The researchers found that COVID-19 infections from the second wave contained the Gly614 amino acid replacement in spike protein. The researchers said that while this amino acid caused “significantly higher virus loads,” this did not increase the potency of the virus.
“We found little evidence of a significant relationship between virus genotypes and altered virulence, stressing the linkage between disease severity, underlying medical conditions, and host genetics,” the study said. “Some regions of the spike protein - the primary target of global vaccine efforts - are replete with amino acid replacements, perhaps indicating the action of selection," according to a summary of the findings.
The researchers said that the study is intended to help scientists understand the composition and trajectory of future infection waves.
It is important to note that the study has not been peer reviewed, and was limited to cases in the Houston area.