Oct. 12, 2021
image above: Bianca Bagnarelli
WN: The article lays out well several scenarios.
The genetic lottery
Viruses are replication machines, hijacking our cells to make copies of their own genomes. Sometimes they make small mistakes, akin to typos, as they replicate.
Most of the time, these errors have no benefit for the virus; many are harmful and quickly disappear. But occasionally, a virus hits the genetic lottery: a mutation that confers an advantage. This fitter version of the virus can then outcompete its peers, giving rise to a new variant.
The coronavirus could shift in countless ways, but there are three concerning possibilities: It could become more transmissible, it could become better at evading our immune system or it could become more virulent, causing more serious disease.
SARS-CoV-2 has already become more transmissible. “The virus is just better at transmitting from one person to another than it was in January of 2020,” said Jesse Bloom, an expert in viral evolution at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. “And this is due to a variety of mutations that the virus has acquired, some of which we understand and some of which we don’t.”
Please click on: Future of Coronavirus and Us