Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States have confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has mutated, allowing it to spread rapidly around the world, but the same mutation makes the pathogen vulnerable to the vaccine. This is reported in an article published in the journal Science.
The researchers analyzed the D614G strain, which originated in Europe and is currently dominant around the world. Although D614G multiplies faster and is easier to transmit, it causes a less dangerous COVID-19 than the original Chinese strain. In addition, it turned out to be much more sensitive to neutralization with drugs containing antibodies, and is better cured.
D614G enters cells more efficiently by binding its S-protein to the cellular receptor ACE2. It multiplies ten times faster than the ancestral strain, and is especially actively replicated in the epithelial cells of the nasal cavity, which facilitates its transmission from person to person by air. The mutation affects the structure of the S-protein, which facilitates contact with the receptor, but it also makes it easier for the protein to bind to antibodies.