More infectious coronavirus strain with D614G mutation found in Malaysia
A strain of the novel coronavirus that is 10 times more infectious has been found in Malaysia. This specific strain has previously been seen in other parts of the world and is predominant in Europe and the United States. Notably, the strain was found in a cluster linked to a man returning from India and in another cluster tracing back to the Philippines.
What is the mutation?
The mutated strain of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, involves a D614G mutation. The mutation changes the amino acid at position 614 from D (aspartic acid) to G (glycine). There has been a rising prevalence of the G614 variant, which is said to be 10 times more infectious. However, there is no evidence suggesting that it is deadlier than D614.
Mutated strain detected in 2 clusters
In Malaysia, the mutation was found in at least three cases in a cluster of 45. The cluster started from a man, who is a restaurant owner, returning from India. He reportedly breached his 14-day home quarantine and has since been sentenced to five months in prison and fined. The mutation was also detected in another cluster with people returning from the Philippines.
People need to take greater precautions: Malaysian health official
"People need to be wary and take greater precautions because this strain has now been found in Malaysia," Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah wrote on Facebook. "People's cooperation is very needed so that we can together break the chain of infection from any mutation."
What does this mean for vaccines?
According to Abdullah, the prevalence of the mutated variant could mean that existing studies on vaccines may be incomplete or ineffective. However, a paper published in Cell Press said the variant is unlikely to have a major impact on the efficacy of vaccines being developed. The paper also noted the global expansion of the variant means that the G614 variant is now the pandemic.
How bad is the outbreak in Malaysia?
As of Monday, Malaysia has reported a total of 9,212 COVID-19 cases, out of which, 8,876 people have recovered. The death toll is 125. Malaysia has largely prevented a resurgence of the coronavirus, however, on Saturday, the country had reported 26 new cases—the biggest single-day spike since July 28. On Sunday, 25 new cases were detected, which further dropped to 12 on Monday.