The mutated strain of COVID-19 was found in Malaysia. The Philippines is currently studying to see whether the new strain makes it more infectious.
The strain, previously seen in other parts of the world and named D614G, was found in a Malaysian cluster of 45 cases that started from someone who returned from India and breached his 14-day home quarantine. The Philippines detected the strain among random COVID-19 samples in the largest city of its capital region.
The Mutated strain of COVID-19 found in Malaysia “is said to have a higher possibility of transmission or infectiousness, but we still don’t have enough solid evidence to say that that will happen,” Philippines’ Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing on Monday.
The strain has been found in many other countries and has become the predominant variant in Europe and the U.S., with the World Health Organization says there’s no evidence the strain leads to a more severe disease. The mutation has also been detected in recent outbreaks in China.
A scientific study of a mutated strain of COVID-19
There’s no evidence from the epidemiology that the Mutated strain of COVID-19 found in Malaysia is considerably more infectious than other strains, said Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s more commonly identified now than it was in the past, which suggests that it might have some kind of competitive advantage over other strains of COVID-19,” he said.
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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.
“People need to be wary and take greater precautions because this strain has now been found in Malaysia,” the country’s Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah wrote in a Facebook post, saying the strain can make it 10 times more infectious without citing a study. “The people’s cooperation is very needed so that we can together break the chain of infection from any mutation.”
The strain “might be a little bit more contagious. We haven’t yet got enough evidence to evaluate that, but there’s no evidence that it’s a lot more contagious,” University of Hong Kong’s Cowling said.