It's a mutation that scientists have been worried about for weeks. Now, a study suggests the new coronavirus has mutated in a way that gives it four to five times more spikes, which make it more stable and easier to infect human cells.
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida said the mutation affects the spike protein, a structure on the outside of the virus that it uses to get into cells. They say more research is needed to show whether the change has altered the course of the pandemic, but at least one researcher not involved in the study says it likely has and the changes may explain why the virus has caused so many infections in the United States and Latin America.
The researchers say it is still unknown whether this small mutation affects the severity of symptoms of infected people, or increases mortality. They say more research is needed to confirm their findings and the work is now undergoing peer review.