OREANDA-NEWS. Genetic studies conducted by American biologists have shown that new outbreaks of the COVID-19 pandemic are associated with the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus. The results can be read in Scientific Reports.

Virus genetics experts at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine have sequenced the genome of 2,000 samples of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Scientists have known that, despite the fact that SARS-CoV-2 has only 15 genes, it constantly mutates. Most of these changes do little to alter the behavior of the pathogen, but some mutations make the virus more transmissible.

Therefore, according to the head of the study, Professor Bart Weimer (Bart Weimer), as new variants emerge, new outbreaks of the infection will appear.

All the information obtained, the researchers combined into a metric of genetic variability of the pathogen, called GENI. Comparison of GENI scores with the epidemic phase demonstrated that, for example, in South Korea at the end of February 2020, a rise in genetic variation quickly preceded an exponential increase in cases, while in Singapore, spikes in variation were associated with small outbreaks that public health authorities could quickly take under their control.

In the UK, from February to April 2020, genetic variation grew constantly along with the increase in the number of cases. When the British authorities finally introduced national-wide isolation at the end of March, the number of new patients stabilized at least, but this measure did not stop the genetic variation, so the GENI indicatots continued to increase.

The scientists believe that the approach they invented will enable authorities to create a tool for predicting the development of pandemics in the future.