This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

July 8, 2020

A Seemingly More Potent Mutated Virus

As I have talked about in the past, viruses tend to mutate. Not surprisingly, this COVID-19 coronavirus is no exception. What we are only now realizing is that it started mutating months ago. I will do my best to decode the details for you into language that we can all understand without sacrificing the integrity of the information.

Somehow Governor Cuomo Guessed
Over and over in his press briefings, Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York State kept saying that the virus that infected New York came from Europe, not from China. It turns out, that was quite correct.

How We Know the Virus Has Mutated
Viruses have genomes. In January, when the first COVID-19 cases appeared in Chicago, the virus had the same genetic signature as the infection that had been identified in China weeks earlier. However, according to Egon Ozer, an infectious-disease specialist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, by May, 95 percent of all the genomes Ozer sequenced were different---not very dissimilar, but different enough to make the virus apparently much more infectious. It appears that this COVID-19 mutation has taken over the world---over 70 percent of the virus genomes sequenced.

Small Differences
The surface of the virus has roughly 1,300 amino acids; they serve as building blocks for a protein on the surface of the virus. In the mutant virus, the genetic instructions for only one of those amino acids, number 614, changed in the new variant from what is identified as a "D" (shorthand for aspartic acid) to a "G" (short for glycine). These changes in the virus appeared again and again. Research tells us that these small differences---affecting three identical amino acid chains---might make the spike protein more effective, enhancing the virus' infectiousness.

The Location of the Change Was Significant
But the location was significant, because the switch was located in the part of the genome that involves the critical "spike protein." The spike proteins are the projecting structures that gives the virus its crownlike appearance; moreover, those projections allow the virus to enter human cells, similar to the way a burglar can pick a lock.

The Jury is Still Out
Though the widespread nature of the mutation is undeniable, the bottom line is that the virologists have not made a definite determination. I covered this mutation because I believe it is important. A growing number of researchers is concerned that the variant has made the virus more contagious. Please, for everyone's sake, wear a mask, stay physically distant, and wash your hands well and often.

Next Week: Where Are We, Really?
It is time to look at how far we have come and what is coming. Sadly, we still do not have a national initiative to keep US citizens healthy---as the number of confirmed cases continues to skyrocket.

Special thanks to the Washington Post for this fascinating article.

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