Study: In-vitro Tests Suggest the New York Covid-19 Strain is More Infectious

New York
New York. By Hromoslav (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Scientist analysing a variant strain of Covid prevalent in New York and Italy have claimed that the mutation they identified likely makes the NY and Italian virus more contagious.

The researchers are not claiming the new variant is more deadly, but the increased ease with which the New York strain appears to spread might explain part of the reason why New York has had such a hard time containing their outbreak.

Mutated coronavirus shows significant boost in infectivity

COVID-19-causing viral variant taking over in the United States and Europe now carries more functional, cell-binding spikes.

June 12, 2020

JUPITER, FL — A tiny genetic mutation in the SARS coronavirus 2 variant circulating throughout Europe and the United States significantly increases the virus’ ability to infect cells, lab experiments performed at Scripps Research show.

There has been much debate about why COVID-19 outbreaks in Italy and New York have so quickly overwhelmed health systems, while early outbreaks in places like San Francisco and Washington state proved more readily managed, at least initially. Was it something about those communities and their response, or had the virus somehow changed?

Choe and Farzan have studied coronaviruses for nearly 20 years, since the first outbreak of SARS, a similar virus. They were the first to discover in 2003 that SARS bound to the ACE2 receptor on cells. Others’ experiments have shown the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds the same ACE2 receptor.

But Farzan and Choe note a key structural difference between spike proteins on the first SARS virus and this new pandemic strain. With both, under an electron microscope, the spike has tripod shape, with its three segments bound together at a backbone-like scaffold. But SARS-CoV-2 is different. Its tripod is divided in two discreet segments, S1 and S2. 

Initially, this unusual feature produced unstable spikes, Farzan says. Only about a quarter of the hundreds of spikes on each SARS-CoV-2 virus maintain the structure they need to successfully infect a target cell. With the mutation, the tripod breaks much less frequently, meaning more of its spikes are fully functional, he says.

It is still unknown whether this small mutation affects the severity of symptoms of infected people, or increases mortality, the scientists say. While ICU data from New York and elsewhere reports a preponderance of the new D614G variant, much more data, ideally under controlled studies, are needed, Choe says.

Read more:

The study (currently undergoing peer review) is available here.

The variant strain has been active in New York for a while, so this discovery does not represent a deterioration in the current situation.

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Wim Röst
June 13, 2020 10:39 pm

Recent outbreaks in Wuhan and Beijing did show mostly asymptomatic cases. This could mean that the present spread of the virus in China is by a strain that is not a dangerous one: most people are asymptomatic. The results:
– Wuhan: about 10 million recent tests (in only some weeks). Result: 300 cases and ALL were asymptomatic
– Beijing: (yesterday) 4 new cases plus 46 additional cases that were all 46 asymptomatic.


Italy (Milan) had a direct flight connection with Wuhan where from the beginning a virulent form was found. From Italy the virus spread over Europe and to cities / countries with a lot of Italian contacts all over the World: New York, São Paulo etc.

Perhaps the isolation efforts for virulent cases so far lead to the eradication of most (all?) virulent cases / strains in China. It could be that the isolation efforts in other parts of the world will show comparable results.

Reply to  Wim Röst
June 14, 2020 12:55 am

You do not need an electron microscope to work out why a virus spreads when you send patients out of hospitals into “care homes” which are totally unequipped and untrained and where the most vulnerable population lives in captivity.

Reply to  Greg
June 14, 2020 4:39 am

Or hospitals rooming non-infected patients together with infected patients as they did (at least) at Elmhurst hospital in NYC

Reply to  Greg
June 14, 2020 11:04 am

Charges of manslaughter … at the least … should be brought against all government officials who sanctioned the practice of moving COVID patients into rest homes.

Reply to  Wim Röst
June 14, 2020 12:58 am

Never mind BLM, Cuomo should be facing 10,000 counts of 3rd degree homicide.

Reply to  Greg
June 14, 2020 4:23 am

A lot of politicians should be watching this :

Of course the neo-con advisors and the “free market” ideologues of the take-down of medical services over decades will escape. NYC was put through the Big MAC reform.

Reply to  bonbon
June 14, 2020 9:38 am

Fascinating how socialists assume that unless government is providing something, it doesn’t exist.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Greg
June 14, 2020 10:21 am

This article may be a lefty one to exculpate Cuomo. He may also have been perfectly healthy but sick with guilt in his basement.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 15, 2020 5:31 pm

Cuomos are Italian. Coincidence?

Reply to  Wim Röst
June 14, 2020 3:05 am

In Europe there are two or three strains of Covid19 ; one infecting the East European countries (possibly extending to Germany) appears to be less infectious and far less deadly.

Reply to  Vuk
June 14, 2020 6:39 am

Take a look at this for comparision. The article is a little over a month old, it has some bearing on the ideas of diffrent strains of the virus and speed of spread plus mortality rate.

Wim Röst
Reply to  Björn
June 14, 2020 12:52 pm

Informative and interesting link. Thanks.

Reply to  Wim Röst
June 14, 2020 4:13 am

There was another disease that accompanied Covid-19(84) from China that is responsible for much of the mortality. China started the use of ventilators as treatment, which soon spread throughout the world via recommendations from the WHO, CDC and others.

Dr. Paul Mayo, perhaps New York City’s most illustrious critical care doctor expressed the risks [of ventilators] pithily: putting a person on a ventilator creates a disease known as being on a ventilator.

To get this link to work, change the ‘!’ to ‘i’ in the word k!lling in the URL (sorry, have to do that to bypass mod filter)

COVID19: Are ventilators k!lling people?!lling-people/

June 13, 2020 10:44 pm

A pathogenic disparity, maybe, and, of course, Cuomo’s ill-conceived Choice: Planned Parent.

June 13, 2020 10:53 pm

Nice post.

June 14, 2020 12:24 am

If the virus has become more infectious, as described, it wouldn’t necessarily need to induce a cough or other symptoms to spread. Hence, we might see a greater number of infections but milder disease. Might.

Charles Higley
Reply to  Adam
June 14, 2020 8:33 am

That is the rule of thumb in virology. The more infectious viruses are less virulent. This has been clear from the beginning and they all tend to get less virulent over time as they adapt to spreading over creating illness or death.

June 14, 2020 1:08 am

I would counter-suggest that living in high density situations with poor environmental conditions increases infection rate across the board.

Well known fact in agriculture.

June 14, 2020 2:28 am

Long interview but well worth while, with Irish immunologist, expert in antibodies, Dolores Cahill, who is clear that the bad hits noted early in Wuhan, Lombardy and NYC were the result of a ‘flu vaccine contaminated with coronavirus – result being, that those who caught Covid went into body shock. And that given that there is no vaccine yet for SARS (2003) and Covid 19 is closely related, talk of a vaccine for that is nonsense.

Also clear the lockdown will cause more deaths than it saves, and that Vitamin D and Zinc will keep you healthy

Reply to  Jeremy Poynton
June 14, 2020 3:23 am

Video has been removed for violation of Google’s

David Lilley
Reply to  Ozonebust
June 14, 2020 3:43 am
David Lilley
Reply to  Ozonebust
June 14, 2020 5:01 am

This is the video itself. This is explosive stuff.

Reply to  David Lilley
June 14, 2020 11:14 am

This information needs to be a main story here at WUWT. Thanks David!

Professor Dolores Cahill debunks the narrative and will open your eyes and mind into the official narrative. It’s a must watch. She explains how lockdown is the worst thing to do — as it weakens society’s immune system, and protective qualities of Vit C, D and Zinc, and how H ydroxychloroquine is … I HAVE NOT SEEN OR READ ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE….BLEW ME AWAY..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cahill has world class credentials and no financial agenda.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 15, 2020 2:24 am

No she is not. Clearly you haven’t watched the video. She is a renowned immunologist who has been involved in the preparation of vaccines. She says she is anti BAD vax, not anti vax, and explains that both mercury and aluminium, present in maby vax are heavyweight neurotoxins that should not be in your body, especially a child’s body.

Great knee jerk, Steve. Well up to par. Well done. Maybe watch it before commenting?

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 16, 2020 6:12 pm

Always interesting when Judy Mikovits’ name shows up – this time in relation to Cahill. I did some looking into Mikovits because friends of mine were sharing her interview for the Plandemic movie. I pulled one of the studies Mikvits cited in the interview, and results appear to be misrepresented so that discounted her perspective in my book. Egregious really. I don’t normally recommend posts like this that are difficult to provenance, but there’s a lot of explanation about potential for financial gain and ideology driven claims. The author makes the distinction between immunology and virology in Cahill’s credentials. Spelling errors not withstanding, the link has some interesting info, including why Mikovits and others are so angry at Fauci -something I have been listening for.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
June 17, 2020 6:51 am

Mosh – really crass knee jerk crap mate. Clearly you commented without watching the video. Pathetic, mate

Reply to  David Lilley
June 14, 2020 6:54 pm

Thanks for that David Lilley. It’s long and I managed accidentally to stop it and lose it just before the end.
Explosive stuff indeed.

Reply to  Ozonebust
June 15, 2020 2:21 am

Hehe. I had already downloaded it on the basis that it would not last long

Reply to  Jeremy Poynton
June 14, 2020 4:03 am

Flu vaccines contaminated with coronavirus that cause an enhanced immune response similar to what occurred during a SARS coronavirus vaccine trial is an interesting and plausible idea, but, unfortunately, she has no evidence for her hypothesis.

Reply to  icisil
June 14, 2020 9:11 am

June 14, 2020 at 4:03 am

Cancellation approach in the proposition of Occam’s razor, points out clearly that the main
and most prevalent point in consideration of the “COVID-19” disease globally, as per the severity and fatality, stands with the massive careless seasonal flu vaccination programs.

The only way to explain the difference in severity and fatality between the developed rich industrialized world versus the poor and very poor countries in this world of ours.

The poor countries did not have the “luxury” of really knowing the severity and fatality of the “COVID-19” disease of hospitals.
Got lucky this time around, same as the most vulnerable group, the babies and the children.

If ignoring such a problem, next time around there may be a lack of such luck!


Reply to  icisil
June 15, 2020 10:50 am

isn’t that what a hypothesis is, a plausible idea?

Then, if the idea is interesting enough to enough people, you go from there ….

June 14, 2020 3:52 am

“Was it something about those communities and their response, or had the virus somehow changed?”

I bet climatologists are jealous that they can’t blame every little meteorologic peculiarity on mutating CO2 like virologists do with viruses. When the evidence rolls in, though, it becomes obvious that this virus is only generally dangerous, and man’s response to it it is the deadly disease.

Reply to  icisil
June 14, 2020 4:45 am

Confusing wording above. I meant “not generally dangerous” rather than “only generally dangerous”.

John Doran
Reply to  icisil
June 14, 2020 6:35 am

A real eye-opener from this brave young lady.

Reply to  icisil
June 14, 2020 5:48 pm

kinda sad that the flat earthers are hosting her

Bloke down the pub
June 14, 2020 3:56 am

In the UK, rather than there being one patient zero, there are now thought to have been hundreds of individuals bringing the disease into the country. New York, being an international city, is also likely to have had a number of different sources of the infection and as such, the likelihood that there is just one, more contagious strain at work there is to all intents zero.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
June 14, 2020 5:06 am

and your airlines are whining about quarantining incoming os travellers?
why the hell they were banned months ago as Aus n NZ did?
let alone the chunnel and ferries.
hardly surprising you copped such huge rates and dead.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Bloke down the pub
June 14, 2020 9:51 am

I would expect that a more infectious strain would out-compete the less infection strain(s) and spread faster. If the antibodies produced by those infected were good against all, or even most, strains, then the less infectious strain(s) would soon be in the minority. That is, it would appear that there was only one strain — the dominant one.

old white guy
June 14, 2020 4:13 am

So far the most dangerous thing about SARS COV 2 is the insanity surrounding a flu virus. It has been created and is continuing because an irrational fear has been absorbed by the tiny minded fools just about world wide. Governments lies and are never ever your friend.

Reply to  old white guy
June 14, 2020 5:10 am

radio abc in Aus running stories from public..
selective of course
about how theyre still going to pretty much stay in iso and intend to do so till a miracle vax is released;-/
other 30s or so too “scared” to go out ot to the shops etc
shows how weakminded and gullible we have bred em
considering our low rates of illness and deaths its even sadder to see just how well the fear factors worked

June 14, 2020 4:40 am

Political cover.
Narratives forming up about how government actions saved the world along with excusing government in those areas with higher death rates.

Reply to  cedarhill
June 14, 2020 5:01 am

Along those lines, the Democrats are hyperventilating about pinning all the blame on the Republicans (Trump) but can’t.. because most of the blame is on themselves.

If there is a very mild strain going around, it is a benefit in that it is probably better than a vaccine in inducing antibodies for those contracting it, especially in the young. They had a TV shot on our local news of downtown last night and people were socializing and not wearing masks or keeping apart. The disease can run its course through younger, healthier people with minor effect taking them out of the contagion.

Reply to  cedarhill
June 14, 2020 10:38 am

June 14, 2020 at 4:40 am

And the funny thing is that in consideration of the new strong viral strains appearing and thriving in the very most highly impacted areas of this dictated government actions.

Meaning that such actions did not have any effect whatsoever towards this novel infection disease.
Nada, zero, zero point zero.


Samuel C Cogar
June 14, 2020 5:03 am

by Eric Worrall

The researchers are not claiming the new variant is more deadly, but the increased ease with which the New York strain appears to spread might explain part of the reason why New York has had such a hard time containing their outbreak.

Eric, Eric, Eric, ……. my intelligent reasoning reasons that the “New York (City) strain” only appears to spread faster than other strains …… simply because NYC has/had tens-of-millions of commuters, visitors and suppliers who commute via train, plane, busses into and out of the City all hours of the day and night.
And a majority of them commute from areas in New Jersey, PA. and Long Island.

Sal Minella
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
June 14, 2020 6:06 am

And a governor and mayor who aided the spread as much as humanly possible.

jim hogg
June 14, 2020 5:05 am

A different view, with a couple of interesting comments btl:

Nick Schroeder
June 14, 2020 7:46 am

Keep thrashing around and torturing the data so you can avoid the real issue – NYC, NY, NJ, MA (BLUE) health care systems stink.

June 14, 2020 8:23 am

I’ve yet to find a reasonable explanation for the Iran Vector

Reply to  Darren Porter
June 14, 2020 9:21 am

There are lots of Chinese in Iran working on numerous projects with direct daily flights from Qom to Wuhan. Plus there’s a Chinese Islamic school in Qom.

Tom Abbott
June 14, 2020 3:19 pm

I liked the part about “their expected expiry”.

No more taxpayer subsidies for Windmills and Industrial Solar.

Let’s see how many they build without subsidies.

john york
June 15, 2020 11:45 am

“There has been much debate about why COVID-19 outbreaks in Italy and New York have so quickly overwhelmed health systems”

I haven’t read much about the spread of the the virus in Italy but I have no idea where the authors of the study got their information on NYC’s health care system being overwhelmed. However, I have read that the US Navy ship Comfort, the Javit’s Center, and the Army field hospitals in NYC all shut down having treated very very few patients. I’ve also read that Cuomo screamed for thousands of ventilators that were not needed.

So, exactly where was the overwhelming?

Robert McAnally
June 15, 2020 1:06 pm

A friend of mine works at Pfizer. They are in the race to develop a vaccine. According to his insider information, C-19 has mutated 26 times since November. So basically, the virus mutates weekly.

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