In the last weeks of 2020, discouraging news arrived: in various parts of the world, the appearance of new ‘variants’ of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was reported that worried some researchers and, with them, the rest of the planet. Viruses make copies of themselves in a process called replication, in which new copies sometimes show small changes. A virus that has undergone one or more significant mutations is a ‘variant’ of the original, occasionally better adapted to its environment, for example because it is more transmissible. Viable mutations are always rare, but in the case of coronavirus they seem even more so. However, there are certain situations that can favor the rate at which SARS-CoV-2 mutates.
Evolutionary convergence or dead end? Why the coronavirus always mutates in the same way