Singapore — A mutation of the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 and that is 10 times more infectious than the original strain has been detected in parts of the world, including Malaysia and Singapore. There is, however, no cause for alarm.
Referring to the strain, called D614G, a Singapore infectious diseases expert says that this may be “a good thing”.
Dr Paul Tambyah, a senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, says evidence suggests the proliferation of the D614G mutation in some parts of the world has coincided with a drop in death rates, suggesting that the mutation is less lethal than the original strain.
“Maybe that’s a good thing to have a virus that is more infectious but less deadly,” Dr Tambyah told Reuters. He added that most viruses tend to become less virulent as they mutate.
“It is in the virus’ interest to infect more people but not to kill them because a virus depends on the host for food and for shelter,” Dr Tambyah said.
Dr Tambyah is also Chairman of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.
An expert at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research has been reported as saying that the variant has also been found in the country but that containment measures have prevented large-scale spread of the virus.
In Malaysia, the mutation was detected in samples taken from three cases linked to the so-called Sivagangga Cluster and one from the Ulu Tiram Cluster.
According to experts, the D614G strain produces more viral copies in the respiratory tract and spreads more efficiently from person to person as compared to other strains of the virus. However, the World Health Organization has been reported as saying that there was no evidence that the strain leads to a more severe form of the disease.
In a recent Facebook post, the Malaysian Director-General of Health, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said the D614G mutation was first detected in July.
He said: “It’s found 10 times easier to infect other individuals and spread easily if spread by the individual ‘super spreader’.” /TISG