A new COVID-19 mutation appears to be even more contagious, according to a study — and experts say it could be a response by the virus to defeat masks and other social-distancing efforts.
Scientists in a paper published last week identified a new strain of the virus, which accounted for 99.9 percent of cases during the second wave in the Houston, Texas, area, the Washington Post reported.
The paper, which has not been peer-reviewed, said people with the strain, known as the D614G mutation, had higher loads of virus — suggesting it is more contagious.
Though the strain isn’t more deadly, researchers said it appeared to have adapted better to spread among humans.
David Morens, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the findings suggest that the virus may become more contagious and that this “may have implications for our ability to control it.”
He said it’s possible that the virus had evolved to resist efforts such as hand-washing and social distancing.
“Wearing masks, washing our hands, 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,” Morens told the newspaper.