• Alysa Salzberg

The meaning of COVID-19 mutations

This summer, scientists studying coronavirus genomes announced that the virus had mutated multiple times.


Unfortunately, among other information in the announcement, the scientists called the reproduction rate of one of the mutations “alarming”. This, a recent longform article from

Nature explains, is what has caused the popular idea that coronavirus is becoming a different, more dangerous version of itself.


According to the article, the scientists who published the statement regret their choice of words. The intention was to show surprise at the mutation’s reproduction rate, not to indicate that it was dangerous. Unfortunately, this mistake is now a part of the inextricable mix of facts, fear, and theories that is coronavirus coverage.


There is some good news, though: despite its many mutations, COVID-19 has remained largely the same, which should make finding a vaccine easier.


Read on to learn more about COVID-19’s origins and mutations.




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