How COVID-19 variants get more infectious and resistant to antibodies
All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 -- the virus that causes COVID-19 -- constantly change through mutation and become more diverse. Think of it as like the branching out of trees, with each branch slightly different than the others. Scientists can compare and label them according to the differences.
These small differences, or variants, may sometimes emerge and disappear; other times, new variants persist. And some of it may affect the virus’s properties, allowing it to spread more easily, heighten the severity of the associated disease or make it resistant to treatments or vaccines.
Scientists have been tracking and documenting these variations since the onset of the pandemic and have categorised them into Variants of Concern (VOC) and Variants of Interest (VOI) depending on how easily and quickly they spread compared to other variants, leading to more cases of COVID-19. This includes the Delta variant, or B.1.617.2, which was first identified in India and has largely been credited for driving the second wave of coronavirus infections.
Why does coronavirus mutate?
A team of US researchers has now identified how multiple mutations on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein independently create variants that are more transmissible and potentially resistant to antibodies.