If someone happens to catch COVID-19 when we're on the other side of the curves -- when deaths and new infections are slowing -- would their symptoms somehow be less severe?
A milder fever? A weaker cough?
Sorry for the naivety in the question.
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There are about 8 common strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in circulation. It appears to be mutating slowly based on phylogenetic analyses and each mutation appears to be the same in terms of clinical disease and lethality.
So, there is no expectation that if you catch the disease late in its spread that the clinical disease is going to be any different from any other time that it's caught.
Now, more diversity is emerging. Like all viruses, SARS-CoV-2 evolves over time through random mutations, only some of which are caught and corrected by the virus’s error correction machinery. Over the length of its 30,000-base-pair genome, SARS-CoV-2 accumulates an average of about one to two mutations per month, Rambaut says. “It’s about two to four times slower than the flu,” he says. Using these little changes, researchers can draw up phylogenetic trees, much like family trees. They can also make connections between different cases of COVID-19 and gauge whether there might be undetected spread of the virus.