Author Topic: What will the virus do next?  (Read 669 times)

What will the virus do next?
« on: August 20, 2021, 01:47:08 PM »
This is a really good piece on how the SARS-CoV-2 virus has evolved so far and the things it still could be capable of in the future. Worth reading in full but this is the conclusion:

“It seems plausible that true immune escape is hard,” concludes William Hanage of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “However, the counterargument is that natural selection is a hell of a problem solver and the virus is only beginning to experience real pressure to evade immunity.”

And the virus has tricks up its sleeve. Coronaviruses are good at recombining, for instance, which could allow new variants to emerge suddenly by combining the genomes—and the properties—of two different variants. In pigs, recombination of a coronavirus named porcine epidemic diarrhea virus with attenuated vaccine strains of another coronavirus has led to more virulent variants of PEDV. “Given the biology of these viruses, recombination may well factor into the continuing evolution of SARS-CoV-2,” Korber says.

Given all that uncertainty, it’s worrisome that humanity hasn’t done a great job of limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2, says Eugene Koonin, a researcher at the U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Some dangerous variants may only be possible if the virus hits on a very rare, winning combination of mutations, he says. It might have to replicate an astronomical number of times to get there. “But with all these millions of infected people, it may very well find that combination.”

Indeed, Katzourakis adds, the past 20 months are a warning to never underestimate viral evolution. “Many still see Alpha and Delta as being as bad as things are ever going to get,” he says. “It would be wise to consider them as steps on a possible trajectory that may challenge our public health response further.”


Re: What will the virus do next?
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2021, 01:48:47 PM »
dead soon


  • I wasn't supposed to be around this long, so…
Re: What will the virus do next?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2021, 03:58:53 PM »
"The spike protein is really strongly conserved."

"Well, not that strongly conserved."

"We've successfully engineered a variant with complete vaccine escape."[1]
In a preprint published this month, researchers tinkered with the virus to learn how much it has to change to evade the antibodies generated in vaccine recipients and recovered patients. They found that it took 20 changes to the spike protein to escape current antibody responses almost completely.


  • ...but first, they must catch you
Re: What will the virus do next?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2021, 10:06:18 PM »
Twenty changes is quite a lot of changes, assuming you limit the changes to ones where the spike protein still works in some fashion.

Poirots BigGarlickyCorpse

  • Living proof of everything wrong with the world
Re: What will the virus do next?
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2021, 10:16:36 PM »
After a robust discussion with some of the lads at work I went and researched vaccine efficacy and the Delta variant and now the Plague Inc Evolved theme is stuck in my head on a loop.