A Study Confirms Three Types of Coronavirus in the World

April 23, 2020
A study on different strains of SARS-CoV-2 suggests the existence of 3 types of coronavirus during this pandemic. These mutations signify genetic changes that are particular to a virus with these characteristics.

The existence of at least three types of coronavirus isn’t big news to the scientific community. However, it does represent an advance in the study of the virus’s genome. Thanks to this confirmation, experts can create contingency plans for new pandemics.

Each time COVID-19 has begun spreading in a country, genome tests have begun to decipher the genome of the virus that’s circulating in that territory. This practice is habitual and to be expected in outbreak situations

In this sense, health authorities can confirm that they are facing the same strain as the rest of the world. And, in the same way, they can track possible changes in the viral particles. They share these changes in the scientific community to track the outbreak.

Previous studies had already cataloged the existence of two variants of  SARS-CoV-2 and labeled them S and L. The L variant was a little less aggressive with patients and spread faster.

Coronavirus and its mutations

The coronavirus behind the current worldwide outbreak is an RNA virus. This means that its genetic information is contained in ribonucleic acid. All RNA viruses mutate quite a lot because they have difficulties when it comes to controlling their replication.

Once the coronavirus enters the cells, it seeks out its internal mechanisms to multiply. Don’t forget that the virus requires a host to replicate, as it lacks the structures necessary to do so on its own.

The issue with RNA viruses like SARS-CoV-2 is that they don’t possess an effective control method for the new ribonucleic acid that forms in the host cell. Each time that these viruses replicate, they run the high risk of mutating.

The same is true when it comes to the flu virus, which is also an RNA type virus. Therefore, each year scientists develop a new vaccine against the flue based on the strains that have mutated in the last season. They do so under the assumption that we face a new flu strain each winter season.

A microscope image of coronavirus.
Coronavirus is an RNA virus, meaning that we can expect frequent mutations

Keep reading: Coronavirus Spreads More Easily in Certain Environments

The three types of coronavirus

The study in question claims to have identified three types of coronavirus in the word. This is according to the genomes that they have been able to sequence. These three types are linked to three large groups of contagion during the current pandemic.

Researchers labeled the three types of coronavirus as A, B, and C. Each letter refers to a cluster of contagion. In other words, a group of successive infections where the same genetic load of the virus exists. This allows for the tracking of this particular type through the countries that the virus has infected as it’s spread.

Type A is the most similar to the coronavirus that initiated its path in bats and pangolins in ChinaIt’s the same type that infected the first patients in the city of Wuhan in November and December of 2019. However, at this time, it’s not the predominant type in China.

At the same time, we have type B. Type B is the prevalent type in China at this time as well as in Eastern Asia. It coexists with type C in these regions but is predominant.

Finally, type C is the predominant coronavirus type in Europe. It’s easy to track this variety in the outbreak in Italy and the United Kingdom, and experts assume that type C was a mutation of type B.

The spread of coronavirus around the world.
Each type of coronavirus has geographic regions where it spreads best
Discover more: Coronavirus Detection: What’s a PCR Test?

What’s the use of knowing that three types of coronavirus exist?

All of the genomes that experts have identified in this pandemic share the same site of connection between countries. Therefore, each laboratory that manages to decipher the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 in its country exposes the information in the same database.

This information is valuable for the research that’s taking place during this pandemic. Meanwhile, the research team at Cambridge strongly believes it will be valuable in the future as well. Their best prognosis is that the knowledge of the coronavirus genomes will improve the world’s response in the face of new pandemics.

Also, the identification of the three types of coronavirus is useful for evaluation medications and vaccines. The creation of certain components to combat COVID-19 requires the RNA codes to fabricate the substances that interact with the virus from scratch.

There are three types of coronavirus, but just one pandemic

Although there are 3 types of coronavirus, it’s important to understand that we’re talking about the same strain. The strain goes by the same of SARS-CoV-2 which, while it has mutated by nature, is the same strain that appeared in Wuhan and spread across the planet.

The measures of prevention continue to be the same, although data is continuously being updating according to the latest news and research.