nypost.com- Two separate types of the novel coronavirus — one more aggressive than the other — could be infecting people during the sweeping outbreak, Chinese scientists revealed in a new study.
The preliminary study, conducted by researchers from Peking University’s School of Life Sciences and the Institute Pasteur of Shanghai under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, revealed that the infection has evolved into two major types, designated L and S.
The L type, which is more aggressive, was more prevalent during the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan — the original epicenter of the virus — and accounted for about 70 percent of analyzed strains. About 30 percent of those strains were linked to the S type, considered less aggressive.
The prevalence of the L type decreased after early January, researchers found.
The S type, which is considered an older, “ancestral version” of the coronavirus, has become more common since then.
The researchers explained that this could have to do with the rush to treat patients infected with the L type virus, whose symptoms are far easier to detect than the weaker, milder S type.
“If the L type is more aggressive than the S type, why did the relative frequency of the L type decrease compared to the S type in other places after the initial breakout in Wuhan?” they wrote. “One possible explanation is that, since January 2020, the Chinese central and local governments have taken rapid and comprehensive prevention and control measures.”
“These human intervention efforts might have caused severe selective pressure against the L type, which might be more aggressive and spread more quickly,” they explained. “The S type, on the other hand, might have experienced weaker selective pressure by human intervention, leading to an increase in its relative abundance among the SARS-CoV-2 viruses.”
More needs to be done to ensure that even the weaker type is detected as soon as possible, to minimize its spread, the scientists said.
“There is a strong need for further immediate, comprehensive studies that combine genomic data, epidemiological data, and chart records of the clinical symptoms of patients with SARS-CoV-2,” they wrote.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials are predicting victory over the coronavirus outbreak as the number of new cases remains on the downswing.
Mainland China saw 119 new confirmed cases of the bug on Tuesday — down slightly from 125 the previous day, according to the National Health Commission. The number of deaths rose by 38, bringing the total toll on the mainland to 2,981.
A total of 80,270 coronavirus cases have been reported in mainland China.