A study has revealed that since December 2019, coronavirus causing Covid-19 has minimally mutated, meaning that one vaccine might be sufficient to combat global infections.
A team of scientists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research led by Morgane Rolland, chief of viral genetics and systems serology for the WRAIR Military HIV Research Program and Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the institute’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Program has conducted the research.
The team collected samples from individuals in 84 countries and scanned them for variations. The analyses show that there is a low level of genetic differentiation following the initial outbreak.
This demonstrates that the SARS-CoV-2 genome has not evolved through adaptation to the human hosts it encounters, instead it evolved from a random process.
“Like other reports, we noticed that the D614G mutation in the Spike has rapidly increased in frequency since the beginning of the epidemic, but we could not link this mutation to specific adaptive forces,” said Rolland. “When viruses replicate and spread in the population, we expect to see some mutations and some can become fixed very rapidly in an epidemic just by random chance.”
But more research has to be conducted to fully comprehend the functional consequences of the D614G mutation in SARS-CoV-2. If a new vaccine comes up, then it can be equally effective against all currently circulating strains of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the general population.
“Viral diversity has challenged vaccine development efforts for other viruses such as HIV, influenza and dengue, but global samples show SARS-CoV-2 to be less diverse than these viruses,” said Rolland. “We can therefore be cautiously optimistic that viral diversity should not be an obstacle for the development of a broadly protective vaccine against COVID-19 infection.”
Scientists all over the world are working hard to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine that is secure and effective for the entire world. These scientific studies are vital to get a vaccine that is quickly scalable and universally applicable to all populations.