Strains of Covid-19 discovered so far
Researchers who looked into the original outbreak of the virus have discovered the new variants throughout the world. The three variants, labelled A, B and C, are distinct but still closely related.
Variant A is the type most like the strain at the root of the outbreak – the type found in bats and pangolins. The B strain is derived from A, separated by two mutations, and C is in then a ‘daughter’ of B, the research suggests. The data was found using samples taken from around the world between 24 December 2019 and 4 March 2020. Dr Peter Forster, geneticist and lead author from the University of Cambridge, said: ‘There are too many rapid mutations to neatly trace a Covid-19 family tree. We used a mathematical network algorithm to visualise all the plausible trees simultaneously.’
Describing how this system has been used to map the movements of prehistoric human populations through DNA in the past, he believes this ‘is one of the first times they have been used to trace the infection routes of a coronavirus like Covid-19.’ What are the three strains of coronavirus? Type A is the one closest to the virus at the root of the pandemic, and closest to the type found in bats and pangolins. Research suggests this strain has two sub-clusters, one in Wuhan and one in America and Australia. When discussing a disease, a cluster refers to a group of similar health events that have occurred in the same area around the same time.
Type B is a variation of the virus most common in Wuhan – it’s thought to have derived from Type A by two mutations. Though these mutations might sound worrying, every virus mutates; it’s part of its life cycle. Because coronavirus is an RNA virus, a collection of genetic material packed inside a protein shell, it is more prone to changes and mutations compared with DNA viruses, such as herpes and smallpox. The third type, Type C, is the ‘daughter’ of Type B and is thought to have spread to Europe via Singapore. The strain is one variation away from its parent, Type B.
Source: Metro UK