New coronavirus strain 10x more infectious, vaccine hopes dashed: Malaysia scientists

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Malaysian health authorities have identified that a new strain of the deadly COVID-19 virus, named D614G, is 10 times more infectious than previous strains, Deputy General of Health for Malaysia Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a Facebook post Saturday.

Abdullah added that the finding might also mean that any vaccine under development currently would be ineffective against the new strain.

The study is not the first to identify the dangers associated with D614G. US researchers have previously suggested that the difference in viral strains may correspond to which regions were more heavily hit by the virus – such as New York or Italy.

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Older research has already noted that COVID-19 is mutating and evolving as it adapts to humans, but the D614G mutation has become of particular note by scientists as it is emerging as the most dominant mutation.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last month that D614G could be making the coronavirus spread much faster.

“The data is showing there’s a single mutation that makes the virus be able to replicate better and maybe have high viral loads,” Fauci said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has also said that it is monitoring the situation and tracking the genetic sequence of the coronavirus around the world to identify any mutations.

Although D614G may be significantly more infectious than earlier strains, Fauci noted that this does not necessarily mean that the virus will become more severe.

“We don’t have a connection to whether an individual does worse with this or not. It just seems that the virus replicates better and may be more transmissible,” he said.

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