Science fiction thrillers fill our nightmares with deadly viruses mutating to the point of human annihilation. While possible, this scenario is highly unlikely and research indicates that SARS CoV-21 does not appear to be gaining transmissibility super powers either. Researchers from the University College of London Genetics Institute evaluated over 40,000 strains of the virus to conclude that the virus is likely near its optimum ability to pass from one person to another.
The media has filled our ears with story after story of this virus’s seeming super powers, its ability to spread, its ability to kill, and even the seeming ability to jump through computer screens (based on admonitions to wear a mask while on a Zoom call). It is no wonder that hysteria has filled our world, causing us to contort life and society to a so-called “new normal” which is far from normal.
The theory behind its origin could support such a doomsday scenario of an evolving virus moving from bats to humans in a mutant leap. Of course, a sci-fi thriller would then go on to human annihilation unless the hero uncovers the secret potion or finds the viral Achilles heel.
In reality, there appears less drama and less reason to panic according to these UCL researchers. After looking at 46,723 SARS-CoV-2 genomes (genetic maps), they have yet to find “a single recurrent mutation in this set convincingly associated with increased viral transmission”. In their words, “At this stage we find no evidence for significantly more transmissible lineages of SARS-CoV-2 due to recurrent mutations.”
If you want to fully understand how they reached their conclusion, you should read the linked paper. The short answer? In no case did a single mutation or group of mutations lead to a virus that outpaced spread of the other viral strains. If a strain had super powers it would multiple in the population faster than others and make up a higher and higher percentage of the case load. In SARS CoV-2, this has not been found to happen.
Functional medicine works hard at applying reason and science to the evaluation and treatment of health and disease. If someone is panicking around you about how the virus is gaining super powers to spread even faster, share this article with them. Helping others live healthier more abundant lives requires equipping others with knowledge so they can be free of fear.
Lucy van Dorp, Damien Richard, Cedric C. S. Tan, Liam P. Shaw, Mislav Acman, François Balloux. No evidence for increased transmissibility from recurrent mutations in SARS-CoV-2. Nature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19818-2
Thanks to Science Daily:
University College London. “SARS-CoV-2 mutations do not appear to increase transmissibility.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201125091456.htm>.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.