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COVID-19 Evolves in Human Hosts

03/12/2020
by   Yanni Li, et al.
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Today, we are all threatened by an unprecedented pandemic: COVID-19. How different is it from other coronaviruses? Will it be attenuated or become more virulent? Which animals may be its original host? In this study, we collected and analyzed nearly thirty thousand publicly available complete genome sequences for COVID-19 virus from 79 different countries, the previously known flu-causing coronaviruses (HCov-229E, HCov-OC43, HCov-NL63 and HCov-HKU1) and the lethal, pathogenic viruses, SARS, MERS, Victoria, Lassa, Yamagata, Ebola, and Dengue. We found strong similarities between the current circulating COVID-19 and SARS and MERS, as well as COVID-19 in rhinolophines and pangolins. On the contrary, COVID-19 shares little similarity with the flu-causing coronaviruses and the other known viruses. Strikingly, we observed that the divergence of COVID-19 strains isolated from human hosts has steadily increased from December 2019 to May 2020, suggesting COVID-19 is actively evolving in human hosts. In this paper, we first propose a novel MLCS algorithm NP-MLCS1 for the big sequence analysis, which can calculate the common model for COVID-19 complete genome sequences to provide important information for vaccine and antibody development. Geographic and time-course analysis of the evolution trees of the human COVID-19 reveals possible evolutional paths among strains from 79 countries. This finding has important implications to the management of COVID-19 and the development of vaccines and medications.

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