Amélie Bottollier-Depois wrote this article in AFP:
The emergence of several, more infectious strains of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has worried governments and scientists, who are investigating how and why the virus became more transmissible.
Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 mutates in order to maximise its survival chances.
When it replicates, tiny errors in its genetic coding are introduced.
Most of these are inconsequential. But some -- as with the virus variants that emerged recently in Britain, South Africa and Brazil -- can give the virus a decisive new advantage.
"When we keep case numbers high, we are maximising the virus's opportunities to get into weird situations, that might be rare, and most of them might lead nowhere," said Emma Hodcroft, epidemiologist at the University of Bern.
More cases equal more transmissions, which maximises the chances that a significant mutation will occur, she said.
"If we keep case numbers lower, we essentially restrict the virus's playground."
Wendy Barclay, a virologist at London's Imperial College, said mutations were a result of several factors.
"It's a combination of how much virus is out there, the number of times you roll the dice defines what happen, coupled with the environment the virus is currently in," she said.
It was not unexpected for the new variants to appear after a year of Covid-19 as levels of global immunity increase through vaccinations and natural infection, she added.
"In South Africa and Brazil there was already quite a high level of antibody response from people who had been infected and recovered from the virus."
Virus Mutations Down to Chance, in More Ways Than One
- AFP: Scotland's Sturgeon says she plans to hold legal referendum on independence from Britain
- AFP: Kremlin accuses US of interfering in Russia's 'domestic affairs'
- Tomorrow's weather: Few clouds, stable temperatures
- Watch: Moment security forces reach Sabra market and lockdown violators quickly run away
- Member of Strong Lebanon bloc MP Cesar Abi Khalil to MTV: It is our duty to adhere to the required coronavirus procedures to limit the number of cases and the transmission of infection so that the medical sector can continue
- Abi Khalil to MTV: There is indifference on the part of the PM-designate regarding the formation, and Hariri has presented a lineup to President Aoun that does not respect the Charter and the Constitution
- Abi Khalil to MTV: The government has not been formed yet because of contradictory internal and external pledges and because some dream of returning to before 2005 and striking the Constitution and partnership; it seems that some are waiting for an external green light for the formation
- Abi Khalil to MTV: Hariri's handling of the issue in the 13 meetings was not serious, and he did not show an intention to form a government but to gain time