Three varieties of COVID-19 could be circulating the globe.
Dr. Peter Forster, a geneticist at the University of Cambridge, and his team traced the origins of 160 samples collected from December 24 to March 4th, and identified three closely connected but distinct strains.
Type A is the original strain of the virus.
That's the closest to the genome found in bats and pangolins in Wuhan.
Type B is a mutation of Type A, and Type C is a further mutation of Type B.
According to the study, the spread of each variant turned out to be rather unexpected.
Type A, the original strain, was not the most common in China where the outbreak began.
Rather, what was most common in the country was Type B.
“Type B was then the first genome to be picked up in Wuhan, when the disease became apparent. And so researchers might be forgiven for thinking at the time that B is the original type, but actually it’s not.
It's Type A."
Surprisingly, Type A was the main variant found in samples from the U.S. and Australia.
Two-thirds of American samples were type A.
The scientists also noticed that Type B is largely confined to East Asia, and Type C is predominant in Europe while being absent in China.
They believe that the virus has mutated in order to overcome different immune system resistance in different population groups.
The research has yet to trace the exact root of the virus, but has helped scientists find the virus' mutation pathways and potentially predict future trends.
Lee Kyung-eun Arirang News.