Just when the researchers are busy trying to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, a new source of worry has emerged following a report that a new India-linked strain of the novel coronavirus called “D614G”, ten times more infectious, has been detected in Malaysia.
Malaysia Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah in a Facebook post on Saturday said the mutation has been spotted in three cases from a cluster which started when a restaurant owner and permanent resident returned to the country from India. The man who returned from India had tested negative when he arrived in Malaysia. He has since been sentenced to five months in prison and fined for breaching quarantine.
The mutated virus has also been detected in another cluster case which started with returnees from the Philippines.
“People need to be wary and take greater precautions because this strain has now been found in Malaysia,” Noor Hisham said, adding that the people’s cooperation is needed so that we can together break the chain of infection from any mutation.
He also warned that the strain could mean existing studies on vaccines maybe incomplete or ineffective against the mutation.
That’s even as a paper published in Cell Press said the mutation is unlikely to have a major impact on the efficacy of vaccines currently being developed.
While Malaysia has largely managed to prevent a resurgence of the virus seen elsewhere in the world, the number of new cases found in the country has been picking up.
The mutation “is said to have a higher possibility of transmission or infectiousness, but we still don’t have enough solid evidence to say that will happen,” Philippines’ Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing on Monday.
The mutation has become the predominant variant in Europe and the US, with the World Health Organization saying there’s no evidence the strain leads to a more severe complication.
Tuesday, 18 August 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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