Quoted: Dr. David O’Connor is a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at UW-Madison’s school of Medicine and Public Health, where he runs a lab studying viral infections. Speaking with WORT, O’Connor said it’s common for viruses to mutate as they find new hosts.
“The genetic material for the coronavirus is called RNA, and when RNA makes copies of itself, sometimes those copies are sloppy, and a mistake gets made,” O’Connor said.
The Associated Press and other news outlets have focused on the fact the B.1.1.7 strain appears to transmit between people more quickly than other strains. Dr. Thomas Friedrich, who studies diseases and immune systems at UW-Madison, shares this same suspicion.
“This variant does appear to be more contagious, more transmissible between people, about one and half times as transmissible as previous strains. So, that’s concerning to us because it means that virus might spread a bit easier, and might be a little harder to control,” Friedrich said.