New strain of coronavirus found in Malaysia could possibly be more infectious than COVID-19

National News

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new strain of the coronavirus, called D614G, is currently making its way across southeast Asia — and Malaysian health officials worry it may be more infectious than even COVID-19.

The strain has been seen in several countries across the continent and was originally found in a Malaysian cluster of 45 cases, according to Bloomberg Quint, which follows international news out of India.

Health officials say those 45 cases of D614G started after someone returned from India before completing his 14-day quarantine. Then, the strain was detected from several samples of COVID-19 in the Philippines.

Philippines Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Monday that the mutation 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.”

The lack of evidence is something health officials stress, however, with Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology and bio-statistics at the University of Hong Kong saying that it might merely have a competitive advantage over other strains of COVID-19.

The strain “might be a little bit more contagious,” Cowling told Bloomberg Quint. “We haven’t yet got enough evidence to evaluate that, but there’s no evidence that it’s a lot more contagious.”

D614G is currently being studied in the Phillippines, where the outbreak of COVID-19 is highest in the region.

Back in July, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, said that a new mutation of COVID-19 could help coronavirus replicate more easily.

“It does look like a particular mutation may make the virus more transmissible,” Fauci said.

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