A new COVID-19 mutation appears to be even more contagious, according to a study – and experts say it could be a response from the virus to defeat masks and other social distancing efforts.
Scientists in a paper released Wednesday identified a new strain of the virus, which accounted for 99.9 percent of cases during the second wave in the Houston, Texas area, the Washington Post reported.
The paper, which has not been peer-reviewed, says that people with the strain, known as the D614G mutation, had higher virus loads, suggesting it is more contagious.
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Although the strain is no longer deadly, the researchers said it appears to have adapted better to spread among humans.
David Morens, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the findings suggest the virus could become more contagious and that this “could have implications for our ability to control it.”
He said it’s possible the virus evolved to resist efforts like hand washing and social distancing.
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“Wearing masks, washing hands, all of these things are barriers to transmissibility, or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious, statistically it’s better to bypass those barriers,” Morens told the paper.