Chinese researchers discover two separate strains of Covid-19
Wednesday, 04 March 2020
Scientists found that the virus had undergone 149 mutations and evolved into two subtypes, L and S. Credit: Belga
Chinese researchers have discovered two strains of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), several media outlets reported on Wednesday.
The two strains would have different effects on the population, according to a report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, including one published on the Oxford University website.
The research involves 103 coronavirus specimens. Scientists found that the virus had undergone 149 mutations and evolved into two subtypes, L and S. 70% of them were of type L, 30% of type S.
According to the study, the first category is more virulent. During the first days of the epidemic in Wuhan, China, in late December, the L type spread more widely, but its occurrence decreased from the first week of January. Human intervention may have placed more severe pressure on the more aggressive and contagious L-type.
Researchers believe that type S, which more closely resembles the virus found in bats, is actually an “older” version of the coronavirus, and is less aggressive.
In China, where the majority of coronavirus cases have been detected, the number of deaths is around 3,000, while about 80,000 people have been infected and 50,000 have recovered. According to the WHO, the number of infected patients outside China, in more than 70 countries in total, has exceeded 10,500, of which 160 have died.