Scientists have warned the virus that causes Covid-19 is evolving rapidly into a more contagious form.

The mutation is a naturally-occurring process, which tends to happen in all viruses as humans develop defences against them.

In this case, the new mutated form of coronavirus appears to be more contagious, and less deadly.

A new US study has identified the mutation, named D614G by scientists, by changes in the structure of the "spike protein" on its surface.

As we have taken more precautions, the virus has evolved to 'find a way' around them

As other random mutations may become less contagious, the new strain identified by the team in Houston, Texas is becoming dominant.

Study author James Musser of Houston Methodist Hospital told the Washington Post that people had "given this virus a lot of chances" by failing to take adequate precaution - leading to there being a "huge population size” of carriers.

While the Houston paper has yet to undergo full peer review David Morens, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has written extensively on the devastating Spanish Flu pandemic has commented on the team’s results.

The Houston research has yet to be fully peer-reviewed

While he warned against "over-interpreting" the single study, Professor Morens said that there was a strong possibility that the virus, as it has spread through the population, has become more contagious.

This change "may have implications for our ability to control [the virus]," he added.

He explained that the new form of the virus was more able to get around our lines of defence: "Wearing masks, washing our hands, all those things are barriers to transmissibility or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious it statistically is better at getting around those barriers."

The new strain is spreading more successfully than its more deadly ancestor

He continued to say that even if we do develop a vaccine – or the much-discussed herd immunity – it could be only a matter of time before Covid-19 evolved to overcome those defences too.

"Although we don’t know yet," he said, "it is well within the realm of possibility that this coronavirus when our population-level immunity gets high enough, this coronavirus will find a way to get around our immunity," he said.

"If that happened, we’d be in the same situation as with the flu. We’ll have to chase the virus and, as it mutates, we’ll have to tinker with our vaccine."