The coronavirus has mutated in a way that might help the pathogen spread more easily, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.
Research is underway to confirm the possible mutation and its implications, Fauci said, adding that “there’s a little dispute about it.” Viruses naturally mutate and scientists have previously said they have observed minor mutations in the coronavirus that have not impacted its ability to spread or cause disease in any significant way.
The possible mutation that Fauci cited was reported on by investigators at Los Alamos National Laboratory in an article published by the journal Cell earlier Thursday. Virologists at Scripps Research in Florida also wrote about the mutation last month, saying it “enhances viral transmission.” It’s unclear when the mutation might have occurred.
“The data is showing there’s a single mutation that makes the virus be able to replicate better and maybe have high viral loads,” Fauci said in an interviewwith The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dr. Howard Bauchner. “We don’t have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not; it just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible.”