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Scientists say a now-dominant strain of the coronavirus appears to be more contagious than original

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by essentialsaltes, May 5, 2020.

  1. essentialsaltes

    essentialsaltes Stranger in a Strange Land

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    Scientists have identified a new strain of the coronavirus that has become dominant worldwide and appears to be more contagious than the versions that spread in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

    The new strain appeared in February in Europe, migrated quickly to the East Coast of the United States and has been the dominant strain across the world since mid-March, the scientists wrote.

    The 33-page report was posted Thursday on BioRxiv, a website that researchers use to share their work before it is peer reviewed, an effort to speed up collaborations with scientists working on COVID-19 vaccines or treatments. That research has been largely based on the genetic sequence of earlier strains and might not be effective against the new one.

    The report was based on a computational analysis of more than 6,000 coronavirus sequences from around the world, collected by the Global Initiative for Sharing All Influenza Data, a public-private organization in Germany. Time and again, the analysis found the new version was transitioning to become dominant.

    “This is hard news,” wrote Korber, “but please don’t only be disheartened by it. Our team at LANL was able to document this mutation and its impact on transmission only because of a massive global effort of clinical people and experimental groups, who make new sequences of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) in their local communities available as quickly as they possibly can.”

    Although the researchers don’t yet know the details about how the mutated spike behaves inside the body, it’s clearly doing something that gives it an evolutionary advantage over its predecessor and is fueling its rapid spread. One scientist called it a “classic case of Darwinian evolution.”

    “D614G is increasing in frequency at an alarming rate, indicating a fitness advantage relative to the original Wuhan strain that enables more rapid spread,” the study said.
     
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  2. Paulos23

    Paulos23 Never tell me the odds!

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    I guess I will be staying home for another year...
     
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  3. sfs

    sfs Senior Member

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    It's not clear from this study that the mutated version is actually more transmissible. See this thread for an assessment of the conclusion. (Plus, the thread references some of our lab's work on Ebola.)
     
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  4. SelfSim

    SelfSim A non "-ist"

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    Need to be cautious about all mutation claims in the media at the moment, I think:

    New mutation indicates that coronavirus might be weakening, study says:
    From the paper:
    This is another random aspect impacting virus infectiousness (other than herd immunity).
    Notice these authors point out that the impact on the spread could go either way, (ie: more or less).
     
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  5. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    There is now a compiled version of Rasmussen's thread that is more convenient to read. Thank you for the original.
     
  6. jayem

    jayem Naturalist

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    If SARS-CoV-2 has already mutated, the obvious concern becomes vaccine development. That’s why there still isn’t a vaccine for HIV. The virus has a high spontaneous mutation rate when it’s in the host. So it’s nearly impossible to make an effective vaccine if the target proteins are constantly changing.
     
  7. sfs

    sfs Senior Member

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    The issue isn't whether the virus mutates -- they all mutate. The issue is whether there are conserved stretches (conserved because mutations to them are deleterious to the virus) of viral proteins that are likely to elicit immune response. From what I've heard, the news seems to be good on that front.
     
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  8. Billy UK

    Billy UK Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  9. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    Given the US is at 29k new cases per day, they more than anywhere need a track and trace app that warns if you've been in contact with anyone that turns out to have it. It's just a record of anonymous digital records of Bluetooth handshakes - no privacy concerns. It's less worrisome than using Siri or Google Maps which track your actual location!
    Track and trace, and test test test! The US will need to scale up to 20 million tests per day to beat this. Then get sick people into quarantine, maybe even with electronic tagging if people are not co-operating! You cannot enjoy civil liberties if you're dead.
     
  10. Billy UK

    Billy UK Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  11. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    I'm not sure if you are objecting to electonic tagging, or speaking in favour of it.
     
  12. Billy UK

    Billy UK Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  13. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    It's really interesting how paranoid some people are about a Bluetooth handshake app when they use Siri and Google to navigate! I mean, seriously!? We have a health epidemic here that at 1% to 3% could eventually kill 3 million to 9 million Americans - the faster it spreads the higher the death rate from a failed flooded health system.

    So get over your so called 'right to privacy'. American's need an equivalent Australian track and trace app, and needs it bad!
    * It doesn't track your location, but keeps a record of Bluetooth 'handshakes' it makes with other people with the app
    * all this data gets deleted at the end of 21 days
    * stop the spread, save lives!
    * lift some restrictions earlier with aggressive track & trace & test!
    * If you're really freaked out by it, you can always do a factory reset of your phone IF the vaccine ever comes out - but until then, we've got to act like there will be no vaccine so this is it!
    * If you're really freaked out about it - why the heck are you? - when you probably use Siri navigation and Google Maps - both of which KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AT ALL TIMES!

    COVIDSafe app
     
  14. Billy UK

    Billy UK Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  15. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    Benjamin Franklin wasn't here in these circumstances.
    I think the Bill of Rights has warped the American mind.
    I'm 100% in favour of human rights, but not mediated by a dusty parchment behind glass, interpreted by an equally dusty group of old judges behind closed doors.
    I'm in favour of democracy, not old lawyers, being a bit more nimble and adjusting to circumstances to protect me. We all want the right to privacy, right? Let’s just have Australia sign the Bill of Rights and be done with it. Pass the champagne. As long as we stay in the abstract like this we are happy.

    But let’s see what happens if we take it out on the road for a test drive. While we can all agree on a right to privacy in the abstract, when we get specific in the real world, people will disagree. For instance, I’m quite happy with Random Breath Testing (RBT). Australian police have the power to pull you over and ask you to count to 10 on their breath analyser. I only get tested about once a year, but it means I’m on statistically safer roads. When I explained RBT to an American friend he exploded in outrage – “But what about your right to privacy?” My argument is what about my right to life? I want to live on safer roads where my family is less likely to be wiped out by a drunk driver, and will gladly submit to the law and do RBT as required.

    The American constitution talks about the right to "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in that order. It seems Benjamin kind of messed up his priorities in your quote above, because the right to Life must come first before liberty. Maintaining life in a genuine health pandemic is the most obvious concern.

    Your 'right' to go drink at the pub with a bunch of rowdy mates can go jump. Sorry - there's an emergency - man up and accept some discipline!

    Now that we have a global pandemic, I’m happy to download a government app that helps track and trace my random street contacts in an anonymous digital bluetooth handshake for the next year or so and warns me if I met anyone that turned out to have the corona-virus. When the crisis passes I will do a factory reset on my phone and delete the app. But in the meantime, doesn’t my right to life outweigh my right to privacy? Shouldn’t we all be prepared to give up some things in order to beat a global pandemic and then get the economy back on track?

    We can all agree on a right to privacy, but once we get specific the battle lines are drawn up. RBT and tracing apps are not the point — the fact that we can so easily disagree about RBT and tracing apps is. I see it helping my right to life but others see it attacking their right to privacy. We can all agree on a vaguely worded, sugar-and-spices bill of rights sitting in a shiny showroom, but take it out on the streets for a drive in the real world and we suddenly discover all sorts of problems.

    So what do we do about it? Once we get into the mucky business of getting specific we discover that smart, educated people disagree. The rest of this page is about how best to protect our rights in a society that must adapt to new technologies, changing cultures, and above all, have a process for protecting our rights even when people disagree. I believe Australia already has those mechanisms in place, but we simply don’t appreciate them for what they are because too many of us feel we need a parchment of fine sounding words, without asking what all these fine sounding words actually mean in our daily lives.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2020
  16. Billy UK

    Billy UK Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  17. eclipsenow

    eclipsenow God cares about his creation as well as us.

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    Give me a break, google WHO's stats. They think it's 10 to 30 times deadlier than the flu - even higher in places where the doctors can't ventilate their patients because the outbreak overwhelmed them. If you don't know these as facts by now, you've not been reading, or you've been reading the wrong stuff. Tinfoil hat stuff. I don't have to justify my position - you have to justify why you think you're more informed than WHO and countless other medical authorities that have been studying this beast.
     
  18. Billy UK

    Billy UK Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 15, 2020
  19. Ophiolite

    Ophiolite Recalcitrant Procrastinating Ape

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    Ophiolite says: "Those who refuse to voluntarily and temporarily forgo a small measure of Liberty to provide Safety for others deserve to be viewed with repugnance and treated with contempt."
     
  20. Billy UK

    Billy UK Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 15, 2020
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