New York Times: What the Future May Hold for the Coronavirus and Us

New York Times: What the Future May Hold for the Coronavirus and Us. “To date, more than 237 million people have been infected with the virus, and 4.8 million have died — 700,000 in the United States alone. With every infection come new opportunities for the virus to mutate. Now, nearly two years into the pandemic, we are working our way through an alphabet of new viral variants: fast-spreading Alpha, immune-evading Beta, and on through Gamma, Delta, Lambda and, most recently, Mu.”

University of Virginia: Scientists Target Next Pandemic With ‘Map’ To Victory Over Viruses

University of Virginia: Scientists Target Next Pandemic With ‘Map’ To Victory Over Viruses. “University of Virginia School of Medicine researcher Wladek Minor and collaborators in China and Poland have developed an internet information system, called virusMED, that lays out all we know about the atomic structure and potential vulnerabilities of more than 800 virus strains from 75 different virus families, including SARS-CoV-2, influenza, Ebola and HIV‑1. Several of the collaborators, including the lead investigator, Heping Zheng, are former students and members of Minor’s lab at UVA.”

Penn State: New tool predicts changes that may make COVID variants more infectious

Penn State: New tool predicts changes that may make COVID variants more infectious. “As SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve, new variants are expected to arise that may have an increased ability to infect their hosts and evade the hosts’ immune systems. The first key step in infection is when the virus’ spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor on human cells. Researchers at Penn State have created a novel framework that can predict with reasonable accuracy the amino-acid changes in the virus’ spike protein that may improve its binding to human cells and confer increased infectivity to the virus.”

Phys .org: Mutation rate of COVID-19 virus is at least 50 percent higher than previously thought

Phys .org: Mutation rate of COVID-19 virus is at least 50 percent higher than previously thought. “The virus that causes COVID-19 mutates almost once a week—significantly higher than the rate estimated previously—according to a new study by scientists from the Universities of Bath and Edinburgh. Their findings indicate that new variants could emerge more quickly than thought previously.”

The Global Virome in One Network (VIRION): an atlas of vertebrate-virus associations (bioRxiv)

bioRxiv: The Global Virome in One Network (VIRION): an atlas of vertebrate-virus associations. “Data cataloguing viral diversity on Earth have been fragmented across sources, disciplines, formats, and various degrees of open collation, posing challenges for research on macroecology, evolution, and public health. Here, we solve this problem by establishing a dynamically-maintained database of vertebrate-virus associations, called The Global Virome in One Network (VIRION). The VIRION database has been assembled through both reconciliation of static datasets and integration of dynamically-updated databases.”

Phys .org: New web app ranks spillover risk for newly detected viruses

Phys .org: New web app ranks spillover risk for newly detected viruses. “SARS-CoV-2 showed the world with devastating clarity the threat undetected viruses can pose to global public health. SpillOver, a new web application developed by scientists at the University of California, Davis, and contributed to by experts from all over the world, ranks the risk of wildlife-to-human spillover for newly-discovered viruses.”

University of Texas at Austin: Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery

University of Texas at Austin: Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery. “A highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant was unknowingly spreading for months in the United States by October 2020, according to a new study from researchers with The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. Scientists first discovered it in early December in the United Kingdom, where the highly contagious and more lethal variant is thought to have originated.”

Coronavirus: How the common cold can boot out Covid (BBC)

BBC: Coronavirus: How the common cold can boot out Covid. “The virus that causes the common cold can effectively boot the Covid virus out of the body’s cells, say researchers. Some viruses are known to compete in order to be the one that causes an infection. And University of Glasgow scientists say it appears cold-causing rhinovirus trumps coronavirus.”

New York Times: Virus Variants Likely Evolved Inside People With Weak Immune Systems

New York Times: Virus Variants Likely Evolved Inside People With Weak Immune Systems. “A coronavirus typically gains mutations on a slow-but-steady pace of about two per month. But this variant, called B.1.1.7, had acquired 23 mutations that were not on the virus first identified in China. And 17 of those had developed all at once, sometime after it diverged from its most recent ancestor. Experts said there’s only one good hypothesis for how this happened: At some point the virus must have infected someone with a weak immune system, allowing it to adapt and evolve for months inside the person’s body before being transmitted to others.”

Washington Post: Scientists underestimated the coronavirus — and are racing to keep up with evolution

Washington Post: Scientists underestimated the coronavirus — and are racing to keep up with evolution. “Evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom knew it was only a matter of time: The coronavirus would turn into an even more formidable foe, able to dodge the disease-fighting antibodies that protect people after being infected or vaccinated. He even knew which mutation was likely to give it that superpower. He just didn’t know it would happen quite this fast.”

Covid-19: Mystery UK person with Brazil variant found (BBC)

BBC: Covid-19: Mystery UK person with Brazil variant found. “A mystery person in the UK infected with the Covid variant of concern first found in Brazil has now been traced. Last week, it was announced that six cases of the P.1 variant had been found in the UK – but the identity of one of the cases was unknown. The person, who lives in Croydon, has been traced, as have their contacts.”

New York Times: Virus Variant in Brazil Infected Many Who Had Already Recovered From Covid-19

New York Times: Virus Variant in Brazil Infected Many Who Had Already Recovered From Covid-19. “…three studies offer a sobering history of P.1’s meteoric rise in the Amazonian city of Manaus. It most likely arose there in November and then fueled a record-breaking spike of coronavirus cases. It came to dominate the city partly because of an increased contagiousness, the research found. But it also gained the ability to infect some people who had immunity from previous bouts of Covid-19. And laboratory experiments suggest that P.1 could weaken the protective effect of a Chinese vaccine now in use in Brazil.”

New coronavirus variant: here is what scientists know about B1525 (The Conversation)

The Conversation: New coronavirus variant: here is what scientists know about B1525. “Scientists are keeping a watchful eye on this variant because it has several mutations in the gene that makes the spike protein – the part of the virus that latches onto human cells. These changes include the presence of the increasingly well-known mutation called E484K, which allows the virus to partly evade the immune system, and is found in the variants first identified in South Africa (B1351) and Brazil (P1).”