Emma Hodcroft

Emma Hodcroft is an epidemiologist and the co-developer of the open source platform Nextstrain, which tracks the mutations of SARS-Cov-2.[1]Hodcroft of the University of Basel in Switzerland is tracking various mutated versions of the coronavirus as it has spread in Europe and has reviewed the scientific information released by the Danish health authorities.[2]Most recently, a scientific study led by the University of Basel's Hodcroft, identified a new strain of the virus which originated in the fruit picking regions of northern Spain, which has since spread far and wide across Europe.[3]A geneticist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, Hodcroft and her colleagues differentiate their samples based on tiny mutations that get introduced into the virus' genetic codes as it replicates and spreads.[4]

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Recent events

Covid infections in animals raise scientific concerns

In Denmark, the virus has shifted from humans to mink and back to humans and has mutated in the process. The versions of the virus that mutate in the mink and spread to humans are non-communicable or cause more serious diseases in humans. Minks aren’t the only animals that can be infected with the coronavirus. Another group did a similar study using primates, which are commonly infected with human respiratory viruses.[2]


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What are mutated strains of COVID-19 and are they important?

Scientists in Europe and around the world are tracking mutations in SARS-CoV-2 as it spreads over time and analyzing the effects of these variants.[3]


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Yes, the coronavirus mutates. But those tiny changes haven't affected how dangerous it is — instead, they help scientists track its spread.

"These typos help us track the virus and build a family tree of all the different samples we've collected," Hodcroft told Business Insider. When labs around the world collect coronavirus samples, they sequence those samples' genomes and upload the information to Hodcroft's team's website — the project is called Nextstrain. According to, genetic mapping has also revealed that the coronavirus strain in the US's first reported case — a patient in Snohomish County, Washington — was the same as those found later in cases of community transmission in the state.[4]


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