Do we need to fear different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus?
One of the most basic concepts students of Virology learn is that virus mutation is an evolutionary process which affects a virus’ chances of survival. Lethal viruses render their hosts too unwell for human contact, limiting the virus’ ability for ongoing transmission. Milder viruses, by comparison, tend to transmit far and wide as their hosts are able to continue functioning amongst other humans who the virus can target. The rule of thumb is that viruses are either highly transmissible (easily spread) or highly virulent (cause severe disease), requiring an equilibrium between both attributes for the virus’ own survival. When they mutate to become more transmissible, this is usually concurrent to mutations making them less virulent.
As an example Ebola, with an infection fatality rate of ~50%, only infects those in very close direct contact with bodily fluids of the…
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