While some experts find it difficult to identify an endpoint or starting point to distinguish one wave of COVID-19 from another, there is now evidence that the current upsurge in cases may be partially due to diverse genotypes. A study published in mBio reports that the most recent cases have been caused by strains with the Gly614 variant of spike protein, which exhibits significantly higher viral loads in the nasopharynx than did the Asp614 variant blamed for earlier cases. For purposes of the study, the authors defined the first “wave” as including cases diagnosed between March 5 and May 11. The second portion of the study extended through July 7. Data for the entire study period reflect 68,418 specimens in the Houston, TX metropolitan area. The authors concluded that not only are there multiple waves of the pandemic, but the current strain is more transmittable by virtue of the higher viral load. The results underscore the importance of continuing safety measures like masking and social distancing, as well as the need for widespread testing and quarantining as needed.
Be Aware: The Current Wave of COVID-19 May Even Be More Transmittable