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VIDEO

Are There Several Strains of SARS-CoV-2?

MAY 19, 2020 | CONTAGION® EDITORIAL STAFF

Part 1: Adam Brufsky, MD, medical oncologist, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, discusses the potential for several SARS-CoV-2 viral strains in the COVID-19 outbreak.

Segment Description: 

Adam M. Brufsky, Professor of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, explains emerging theories which could change our understanding of SARS-CoV-2. Dr. Brufsky is a medical oncologist, and in the first part of the interview brings his outside expertise to discuss the potential role of hyperglycemia in severity of COVID-19. Dr. Brufsky has contributed articles to several journals, working with experts native to the infectious disease field.

In part 1, Dr. Brufsky explains how hyperglycemia, and not simply diabetes, may lead to more severe COVID‐19 disease. This would be because both the virus and the ACE2 receptor it attaches to require sugar molecules bound to their protein for the binding to take place. So severity of coronavirus, this would mean, is mediated by the concentration of sugar-coated virus and sugar-coated ACE2 receptors in a patient's lung tissues.

In part 2, Dr. Brufsky explains a second interesting conclusion: that there are 2 strains of the virus, with different virulence. On the US west coast, for example, there may be a less lethal strain in circulation than the east coast and some of the European countries that have been hardest hit.

And part 3 is where it gets both optimistic and controversial: Dr. Brufsky speculates that the virus may be attenuating over time. While many look back at the original SARS' decline as solely the result of public health measures, there's a school of thought that points to the possibility changes in the virus had a role. 
 
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