As scientists and researchers work to provide everyone with information about the new coronavirus as quickly as possible, they have to be sure the data is helpful and accurate. That daunting task is being complicated by the virus' baffling and alarming mutation, the Washington Post reports. It's a change that doesn't seem to make the illness more dangerous, but researchers say it could be making the virus more contagious. Several studies that have not been peer-reviewed suggest that, and another indicates patients with the mutated version have more of the virus in their systems, which would make them at greater risk of transmitting it to other people. But there are no certainties yet. The mutation has shown up in patients around the world.
Researchers in Florida found that the mutation increased the number of the virus' spike proteins fivefold, per the New York Times. That change would make it much more likely that viruses with the D614G mutation would infect cells. "There are very clear differences between the two viruses in the experiment," one researcher said. A specialist in Australia called the work "the best evidence yet that the D614G mutation increases the infectivity" of the new coronavirus. Other scientists are unsure, saying more research is needed. One in California hasn't seen the mutated version dominate. "If one really was able to spread significantly better than the other, then we would expect to see a difference here," he said, "and we don't." (Read more coronavirus stories.)