Scientists have conducted new research that found COVID-19 variants are evolving to have higher infectivity and antibody escape.

What they found: The study — published in ACS Infectious Diseases — analyzed 1.5 million COVID-19 cases to find there were more than 680 unique mutations to the receptor-binding domain, which is part of the COVID-19 spike protein that attaches to human cells.

  • In all, the researchers “found that mutations to strengthen infectivity are the driving force for viral evolution, whereas in highly vaccinated populations, mutations that allow the virus to escape vaccines become dominant,” according to News Medical and Life Sciences.
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In a separate study, the same researchers looked at the omicron variant’s infectivity and antibody resistance.

  • “Their results indicated that omicron is over 10 times more infectious than the original coronavirus and 2.8 times more infectious than the delta variant,” News Medical and Life Sciences reported.
  • “In addition, omicron is 14 times more likely than delta to escape current vaccines, and it is predicted to compromise the efficacy of several monoclonal antibody therapies,” according to News Medical and Life Sciences.

More research: New lab experiments in Japan found that the BA.2 subvariant of the omicron variant is capable of causing severe COVID-19 symptoms on the same level as previous COVID-19 strains, according to CNN.

  • The BA.2 omicron variant is the latest version of the novel coronavirus that’s been circulating, a sign that the variants are becoming more likely to evade vaccines.