Is the current coronavirus more infectious than the original strain discovered in China in 2019? Well, according to a study published in the American journal Cell on July 2, it is. This variation of SARS-CoV-2 appears to be more capable of infecting cells, which would make it more likely to be passed on between humans, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Anthony Fauci, director of the United States' National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Jama:
We don't have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not. It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible, but this is still at the stage of trying to confirm that.
A more infectious virus
Researchers working on the new study, the universities of Sheffield and Duke, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory analyzed the results of 999 British patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19. They observed that those who had the "new" coronavirus had higher viral loads. However, this did not make their illness more serious.
Additional laboratory experiments have shown that the new virus is three to six times more capable of infecting human cells. Erica Ollmann Saphire, who participated in these experiments explained: "It seems likely that it's a fitter virus." For now, the only conclusion to be drawn is that the virus is undoubtedly more infectious, but that does not necessarily mean that it is more easily transmitted between humans.