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Trust Index: Scientists say no evidence mutated COVID-19 virus is weaker

COVID-19 mutated to more contagious virus, no evidence of change in strength according to scientists

The coronavirus mutation is bringing up a lot of questions and after a comment was made about the strength of the mutated virus, News 6 called in the experts to verify.

Sunday during a press conference with the governor, Dr. Jason Foland with Struder Family Children's Hospital made a statement regarding the strength of the mutated virus.

“Viruses, particularly this virus, is mutating over time since it first entered China. So we’re seeing a less strong virus spread throughout the community in a population that doesn’t have a lot of symptoms,” said Dr. Foland.

Scientists at Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter have been tracking and researching coronaviruses for more than 20 years. Shortly after COVID-19 made its way to the US, scientists found that it mutated to a more contagious virus called D614G.

Virologist Dr. Michael Farzan, co-chair of the Scripps Research Department said in a statement “There is no evidence yet that any change in the virus is changing the number of deaths or hospitalizations.” Meaning there is no indication the mutation is a weaker virus. So when it comes Dr. Foland’s comments about the virus getting weaker, on our trust index it’s not true. Scientists say more studies will need to be done to know for sure.”

Dr. Marcia Katz with UCF’s College of Medicine has been following Scripps’ research and said the spikes on the virus are what make it contagious.

"Viruses become contagious because on their surface they have spike proteins that allow them to bind to cells within the body, and then turn the cell they bind to into a machine like a factory to reproduce the virus in mass numbers," said Dr. Katz.

The more stable spike proteins the virus has, the more contagious. Dr. Katz said the level of contagion doesn’t mean the virus is getting stronger.

“We know that our younger population has fewer other diseases so in general, predictively they would have less severe symptoms and we’re seeing that. That explains the asymptomatic patient or patients with mild symptoms,” said Dr. Katz.

That’s why Dr. Katz said it’s important to continue to socially distance, wear a mask and wash your hands to protect yourself and others who may be more vulnerable to the virus.

With social distancing and wearing a mask, scientists at Scripps Institute said the amount of virus received during the time of exposure is a lot smaller. So they recommend people continue to follow CDC guidelines.

News 6 used the Trust Index and found that information indicating COVID-19 has mutated into a weaker virus is not true.

Not True

After review, we've found this information is Not True.

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