While the world is struggling to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2, Malaysia has detected a new strain of coronavirus that is ten times more infectious than the previous strains and the original Wuhan strain.
Earlier, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a major infectious disease expert in the United States, warned that the SARS-CoV-2 virus showed some signs of mutation, which may accelerate the spread of the virus. As the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spreads globally, it is predicted that the virus will mutate into more deadly substances and become a more terrible threat to humans.
COVID-19 is a contagious infection caused by a newly discovered strain of coronavirus, which is a virus known to cause human respiratory infections. This new strain of the virus was unknown until December 2019, when unidentified pneumonia broke out in Wuhan, China.
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a national infectious disease expert, warned again and again that the new coronavirus is showing some signs of mutation in some way, which may make the pathogen more easily spread.
We don’t have any connection with whether individuals’ health will deteriorate due to this or not. Fauci stated: It appears that the virus replicates better and may transmit more easily.
But what is the “new mutation”, should the public worry about it?
What is a viral mutation?
The National Cancer Institute defines a ‘new mutation’ as the first genetic variation in a family member due to a mutation in the germ cell of one of the parents. It is also known as D614G mutation.
In layman’s terms, viruses will naturally mutate and be able to replicate, especially those viruses that are considered RNA viruses, such as influenza, SARS, measles, and SARS-CoV-2, which is now more known as the COVID-19 virus. RNA viruses are mainly described by their collection of genetic material gathered in a protein shell.
The new variant of the coronavirus is a member of the RNA virus family that originated in Wuhan, China. Basically, this virus is similar to SARS Virus, 2002 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) and MERS/ Camel Fever, 2012 (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) that previously caused pandemic diseases.
We know that the symptoms of coronavirus include cough, cold, fever, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. In more critical cases, COVID-19 infection can cause drastic acute respiratory symptoms, cause kidney failure, pneumonia, and even death.
According to a Bloomberg report, in Malaysia, the D614G- known as a mutation -was found in at least 3 of the 45 cases in a group that began from a restaurant owner.
The report added that the man returned from India and violated his 14-day home quarantine rule, has since been sentenced to 5 months in prison and penalized. The report quoted Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general of Health, as saying that this strain may mean that existing studies on vaccine may be inadequate or ineffectual against mutations of this virus.
People need to be vigilant and take more comprehensive precautions because this strain has been found in Malaysia. The cooperation of the people is very necessary so that we can work together to break any mutated infection chain. On Sunday, Hisham wrote in the Facebook post.
The report stated that the strain was also found in another group of individuals involved in returning from the Philippines. Since the first identification in Wuhan, China, last December, scientists have discovered mutations or changes in the genetic material of the coronavirus.
Although the virus mutation has become a major variant in Europe and the United States, the WHO (World Health Organization) announced that there is no evidence that the virus strain can cause more serious diseases.
At the same time, a paper published in Cell Press reported that this mutation is unlikely to have a major impact on the effectiveness of vaccines currently being developed around the world.
Top immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci said that the new mutation may accelerate the spread of COVID-19.
Will this mutation make citizens more susceptible to COVID-19?
Dr. Mark Schleiss said: We now know from the described mutation that it does seem to cause an increase in the level of the virus in the body and an increase in the ability to infect and spread.
Will mutations cause more deaths from COVID-19?
Dr. Mark Schleiss said that we don’t yet know whether the mutation will cause more deaths, but it does seem to have an impact on the spread of the coronavirus.
He further added: The molecular evolution of the virus has gone from bad to worse to some extent, because now we have a virus that spreads more easily and is more likely infectable for people.
Will the mutation effect when a vaccine may be available?
Schleiss believes that this new mutation will not make vaccine development more difficult. He said that if we get the vaccine before the end of 2020, he will be surprised, but he believes that we can get the vaccine before the spring of 2021, and he is optimistic about that. There is a very serious need for vaccines and excited regarding the progress being made, he said, I think we need to be cautious and not rush to make judgments and release vaccines before a comprehensive assessment.
The first case of COVID-19 was detected in Malaysia on January 24, 2020. The World Health Organization Office in Malaysia has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to respond to this outbreak.