About 97 per cent of global samples of SARS-CoV-2 have this strain present, and it is reported to be ten times more infectious than the original strain.
New Delhi: One of the biggest challenges that scientists, researchers, and medical experts have faced over the course of COVID-19 pandemic is the paucity of facts when it comes to characteristics of the virus. Given that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is a new virus, symptoms, treatments, risk factors and categories have all changed over time, as new information about the virus has been received.
However, another common characteristic of the virus that we have been hearing about since the beginning is its ability to mutate quickly and drastically. This has left researchers and the general public confused as to if the many vaccine candidates, and treatment methods that are currently underway, will work at all against the virus, or these mutations will render them ineffective.
Malaysia detects new, 10 times more infectious coronavirus strain
On Monday, 17th August, it was reported that a new, mutated strain of the coronavirus has been detected in Malaysia which is potentially ten times more infectious than the other strains. According to a report in Bloomberg, the mutation, called the D614G was found in at least 45 cases in a cluster started from a restaurant owner.
Why was the mutation named D614G?
SARS-CoV-2 is the official name given to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease. D614G is the name of one of the mutations of the virus.
As you already know, the coronavirus is made up of spike proteins. According to researchers, D614G is also present in those spikes itself. This mutation changes amino acid at the position 614, from D – aspartic acid, to G – glycine. Hence, it is named D614G.
When did the D614G strain originate, how common is it?
While the strain was reported in Malaysia recently, it has been reported that this strain had originated soon after the initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December last year, and has been around since then. In fact, about 97 per cent of global samples have this strain present.
Is the D614G strain more contagious?
There can be three effects of the different mutations that a virus undergoes – the mutation can make the virus more contagious, it may hinder the replication of the virus, or it may have no effect at all.
Unfortunately, the D614G mutation is likely to increase the contagious nature of SARS-CoV-2. According to a study by Scripps University in Florida, the mutated strand may make it easier for the virus to enter human cells, and replicate further.
Other studies have also substantiated the claim and said that the new strand may be more transmissible than the original version.
Is the mutation likely to affect the efficiency of the COVID-19 vaccine?
While experts argue that the mutations are not likely to have an effect on the efficiency of the vaccines, they said that even if that was the case, more than one vaccine may not be needed, since about all circulating SARS-CoV-2 strains around the world are of the D614G variant now.