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The Coronavirus is a master of mixing its genome, worrying scientists

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

In recent weeks, scientists have sounded the alarm about new variants of the coronavirus that carry a handful of tiny mutations, some of which seem to make vaccines less effective.

But it is not just these small genetic changes that are raising concerns. The novel coronavirus has a propensity to mix large chunks of its genome when it makes copies of itself. Unlike small mutations, which are like typos in the sequence, a phenomenon called recombination resembles a major copy-and-paste error in which the second half of a sentence is completely overwritten with a slightly different version.


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