The coronavirus isn’t mutating quickly, suggesting a vaccine would offer lasting protection

28 Mar, 2020
The coronavirus is not mutating significantly as it circulates through the human population, according to scientists who are closely studying the novel pathogen’s genetic code. That relative stability suggests the virus is less likely to become more or less dangerous as it spreads, and represents encouraging news for researchers hoping to create a long-lasting vaccine.

Scientists now are studying more than 1,000 different samples of the virus, Peter Thielen, a molecular geneticist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory who has been studying the virus, told The Washington Post.


There are only about four to 10 genetic differences between the strains that have infected people in the United States and the original virus that spread in Wuhan, he said.


“That’s a relatively small number of mutations for having passed through a large number of people,” Thielen said. “At this point, the mutation rate of the virus would suggest that the vaccine developed for SARS-CoV-2 would be a single vaccine, rather than a new vaccine every year like the flu vaccine.”