Do Mutations Matter?

It’s perfectly normal for viruses to mutate—but most of these changes are about as consequential as typos on a page (though we hate to see those!).
Others can be more meaningful—and a flurry of new research has convinced some scientists that one SARS-CoV-2 variant made the pandemic harder to handle, The New York Times reports.  
First spotted in China in January, the “614G” mutation quickly became the dominant strain across the globe. Though it doesn’t appear to make symptoms worse, a trio of studies found that amid UK community outbreaks, among hamsters in a lab, and in a cell-culture dish, the variant spread more efficiently than its predecessor.  
The Quote: “When all is said and done, it could be that this mutation is what made the pandemic,” said David Engelthaler, a geneticist at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona.
Wait: Another large study has identified more than 12,700 mutations of SARS-CoV-2—and found that none of them, including the 614G variant, made COVID-19 spread faster, the Daily Mail reports.

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