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Latest COVID-19 mutation may indicate the virus is weakening

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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The most recent coronavirus mutation may indicate the virus is weakening, according to a new published paper. 

The article, published in the Journal of Virology, was led by Efrem Lim, PhD and assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University.

Lim and his team assessed the genetic code of COVID-19 using a new technology called next-generation sequencing, which is a method used to determine the order of chemical letters of a genome. The coronavirus’ genetic material is made up of 30,000 chemical letters.

To assess the current COVID-19 genetic sequence, authors collected 382 nasal swabs from people potentially infected with the coronavirus. 

Results showed 81 chemical letters completely vanished from the coronavirus’ genetic material — possibly indicating the virus might slowly becoming less potent. Plus, authors add, this is the first time in all of the COVID-19 mutations a permanent deletion of chemical letters occurred.

The novel coronavirus has mutated multiple times since it was first discovered back in November 2019. The latest viral change is similar to one that occurred in SARS over 15 years ago. SARS is also a coronavirus and when it mutated back in 2003, the mutation lessened the virus’ strength. 

While the study drew international attention, more research is needed to follow the coronavirus as it continues to spread, change and adapt.

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