Coronavirus ‘is mutating and becoming more contagious’, study finds

Covid-19 may have become easier to catch according to a new study in the US.

Experts believe the virus is mutating after looking at a sample of 5,000 genetic sequences of the infection.

The study did not conclude the disease was more lethal and added all viruses normally go through insignificant mutations, the Washington Post reported. 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases virologist David Morens also warned the report shouldn’t be over-interpreted.

He said: ‘All those things are barriers to transmissibility, or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious it statistically is better at getting around those barriers.’

Mr Morens added a potential vaccine may have to be adjusted each year to deal with changing strains of Covid-19, similar to the flu.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Robert Redfield told a Senate committee on Wednesday he expects vaccinations to take place over many months and most Americans could be vaccinated by July next year at the latest.

He said he expects there to be about 700 million doses of vaccines available by late March or April, enough for 350 million people.

There are several vaccines in late-stage trials in the US, including from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Companies have begun manufacturing the vaccine in anticipation of a fast regulatory authorization once they are shown to work.

The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States topped 7 million on Thursday – more than 20% of the world’s total – as Midwest states reported spikes in COVID-19 infections in September, according to a Reuters tally.

The latest milestone comes just days after the nation surpassed over 200,000 coronavirus deaths, the world’s highest death toll from the disease. 

Each day, over 700 people die in the US from Covid-19.

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