While stocks shot up early Thursday following optimism over confirmed payroll data, a spike in coronavirus cases heading into the long holiday weekend, along with news that the virus likely has mutated to wreak even more havoc sent stocks closing lower, a trend which continued into an abbreviated holiday session Friday.
S&P 500 futures reached recent, local highs before dropping 1.5% Friday, with markets closing early for the Independence Day weekend, as coronavirus cases hit record levels. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) and other ETFs were closed for Friday trading due to the holiday.
In the latest news on the pandemic front, the coronavirus has likely mutated in a way that might aid the pathogen in disseminating more easily, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.
Research is underway to validate the possible mutation and its implications, Fauci said, adding that “there’s a little dispute about it.” Viruses like the cold and influenza naturally mutate and scientists to ensure their survival, and scientists have noted already that they have observed minor mutations in the coronavirus that have yet to hinder its ability to spread or infect others discernibly.
If anything, the new mutation is more likely to result in further damage to the population as it may have enabled Covid-19 to infect even more individuals, says Fauci.
“The data is showing there’s a single mutation that makes the virus be able to replicate better and maybe have high viral loads,” Fauci said in an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association’s Dr. Howard Bauchner. “We don’t have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not; it just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible.”
The possible mutation that Fauci referred to was reported on by investigators at Los Alamos National Laboratory in an article published by the journal Cell earlier Thursday. Virologists at Scripps Research in Florida also documented the mutation last month, saying it “enhances viral transmission.”
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