A new study by Italian researchers suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is currently mutated relatively slowly, meaning that any effective vaccine developed could prevent the disease for a considerable period of time. The study was conducted by two independent teams, including the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (IRCCS) in Rome and the Forensic Division of the Ancona Department of Biomedical and Public Health (DSBSP).
Scientists used techniques developed by Thermo Fisher Scientific to conduct genetic sequencing tests on virus samples taken from Italian patients. They then compared the samples with the reference genome, which was sequenced from the original Wuhan virus sample about two months ago.
In terms of genetic variation, the difference between the two virus samples was very small, with only five new variants appearing in subsequent Italian samples, indicating that SARS-CoV-2 coronaviruses remained fairly stable throughout the long spread of multiple individuals and populations. This is exciting news, especially considering that other viruses may soon mutate.
In contrast, seasonal influenza, which has a much severity of the health threat, remains a challenge for health professionals. It’s basically going to mutate, which is why a new flu vaccine is being developed every year, and researchers are scrambling to predict which new mutated strains will pose the greatest threat during each flu season, develop new vaccines and urge the public to vaccinate.
In addition to the Italian study, the work of Johns Hopkins University and other health researchers around the world supports this view. This is really good news in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be widely effective for at least a few years when the vaccine does arrive.