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COVID-19 : Coronavirus: What is viral recombination, the possible effect of mutation between variants of the coronavirus

The pandemic continues throughout the planet and, despite the arrival of vaccines, the possible variants of SARS-CoV-2 could put the end of this tragic situation in check. The best known virus mutations are those that appeared in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil. In fact, practically, the three have already spread to most of the continents, where cases of each of them have appeared.

These variants can cause a significant increase in infections and deaths due to their high infectiousness and, in some cases, fatality. Nevertheless, the situation can still get worse if the virus manages to recombine, that is, two or more mutations join at once. This could make the mutation so resistant that it could escape the vaccine.

However, at the moment there is little data and it does not necessarily have to be more dangerous. “This type of event could allow the virus to have coupled a more infectious virus with a more resistant virus.”says Bette Korber, an American computational biologist, according to the specialized magazine New Scientist.

What does it consist of?

The recombination process occurs in a common way in coronaviruses, since the enzyme that replicates your genome tends to slip off the RNA strand it is copying and then reattach, as specified in the New Scientist article. Thus, if a host cell contains different coronavirus genomes, the enzyme is able to jump from one to another, combining their elements to create a hybrid virus.

First case of recombination in the United States

The alarms have been raised when a case of viral recombination has been detected in the United States. The sample was found at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. According to the scientists who have studied this new recombined variant, it would be “a highly mutated version from the combination of variants B.1.1.7 (UK) and B.1.429 (California)”. This powerful possible mutation could be the cause of the important outbreak of the coronavirus that occurred in Los Angeles (United States).