A study has found that COVID-19 is spreading around the world in three different variants. Researchers from Cambridge University collected 160 samples from patients all around the world and analyzed their genome sequence between Dec. 24 and March 4 to find three distinct variants of the coronavirus, Mirror and The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The novel coronavirus is largely classified into Type A, B, and C. Type A is presumably the original one that was found in bats and pangolins in Wuhan, China. But the Type A is now the most prevalent in the U.S. and Australia, the researchers said. The Type A was found especially in many Americans living in Wuhan.
Type B, which is a variant of Type A, was prevalent in East Asia, including China and South Korea. Type B has rarely been found outside East Asia. Professor Peter Forster, who is the leading researcher, told The Daily Mail that scientists are yet to find grounds on how Type B “pushed aside” its predecessor to become more common in China.
Type C is sweeping Europe, including the UK and Italy. Scientists said Type B appears to have mutated rapidly outside China, adding it might have needed to mutate to overcome resistance outside East Asia. Some assume that Type C has spread across Europe through Singapore as a patient tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to Germany from a conference in Singapore. “There are too many rapid mutations to neatly trace a COVID-19 family tree,” said Professor Forster.