Coronavirus: “From a virus point of view, Sars-CoV-2 does its job very well” – Interview


SPIEGEL: Ms. Hodcroft, you are working intensively on genome sequences and mutations of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus. To immediately clarify a basis: what is actually a mutation and when should we worry?

Hodcroft: Oh, I think there are some misconceptions. In disaster movies, there is this moment when the virus mutates. You know, from now on it will be complicated! In fact, it’s less exciting or crucial: when viruses infect a person, they multiply billions of times. So they copy their genetic makeup very, very often. A mutation is just a mistake in a single point of this genetic makeup.

SPIEGEL: And what does this mutation mean?

Hodcroft: In most cases, nothing at all. For comparison: if someone types a document, at some point an error occurs, the wrong key is pressed, one letter is wrong. The document can still be read normally, it makes no major difference. Most mutations are like minor typos.

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