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Mutated virus strain detected in Southeast Asia

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A MUTATED virus strain of the new coronavirus has been detected in Southeast Asia and currently being studied in the Philippines.

  The Philippines’ Health undersecretary, Maria Rosario Vergeire stated that the mutation is said to have a higher possibility of transmission.

  The strain was found in a Malaysian cluster of 45 cases that started from someone who returned from India and breached his 14-day home quarantine.

  Southeast Asia is facing a mutated strain of the coronavirus, currently being studied in the Philippines to see whether the mutation makes it more infectious.

  Vergeire said: “But we still don’t have enough solid evidence to say that will happen.” The strain has been found in many other countries and has become the predominant variant in Europe and the United States. However, the World Health Organisation has said there is no evidence the strain leads to a more severe infection.

  According to Bloomberg report, the Philippines found the strain among random COVID-19 samples in the largest city of its capital region. The strain, which is called 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.

  According to Director of NIAID, Anthony Fauci, 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 Organisation saying there’s no evidence the strain leads to a more severe disease. The mutation has also been detected in recent outbreaks in China.

  There’s no evidence from the epidemiology that the mutation 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.

  As Southeast Asian countries are taking various steps to prevent resurgence while reopening limited travel, they struggle with people breaching quarantine rules after returning from overseas as well as false negative test results at borders.

  Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah in a Facebook post, said, “people need to be wary and take greater precautions because this strain has now been found in Malaysia,”

  “The people’s cooperation is very needed so that we can together break the chain of infection from any mutation.”

Hisham warned that the strain could mean existing studies on vaccines may be incomplete or ineffective against the mutation. That’s even as a paper published in Cell Press said the mutation is unlikely to have a major impact on the efficacy of vaccines currently being developed.

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