Recent speculation has suggested that SARS-CoV-2 may have evolved, or be evolving, to become more transmissible
The mutations that are most likely to be under selection are those that have emerged repeatedly and independently (homoplasies)
Van Dorp et al. (Nature Comms. 2020) tested whether any homoplasies observed in SARS-CoV-2 to date are significantly associated with increased viral transmission
The authors developed a phylogenetic index that they used to quantify the relative number of viral descendants
They then applied this index to a curated set of recurrent mutations found within a dataset of 46,723 SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated from patients worldwide
There are no single, recurrent mutations in this dataset that were convincingly associated with increased viral transmission
Rather than being signatures of adaptation, recurrent mutations currently in circulation seem to be
Mostly induced by the human immune system via RNA editing
There is no current evidence to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 has evolved into more transmissible lineages due to recurrent mutations
The authors state that while it is expected over time that SARS-CoV-2 will diverge into different lineages and become an endemic human pathogen
…our results do not point to any candidate recurrent mutation significantly increasing transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 at this stage and confirm that the genomic diversity of the global SARS-CoV-2 population is currently still very limited
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