PETALING JAYA, Aug 18: Medical experts in Singapore have disputed a claim by Malaysia’s health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah over the discovery of a Covid-19 strain said to be 10 times more infectious.
The experts were reported to have said the D614G strain is already found in Singapore and would have no impact on the development of a vaccine for the virus
Noor Hisham had over the weekend said the new strain – discovered by scientists in July this year – had been identified in three patients in Malaysia and would be able to infect other people 10 times more easily.
He also said vaccines being developed may be ineffective against this mutation.
However Prof Wang Linfa, the director of the emerging infectious diseases programme at Duke-NUS Medical School, told the Straits Times there was “no real scientific data” to back the claim that the strain is more transmissible, “let alone the tenfold claim”.
Wang’s deputy, Prof Ooi Eng Eong, said the mutation would not impact vaccine efficacy as vaccines generated antibodies that “bind to many different parts of the virus”.
“It also won’t be limited to the site of mutation.”
Associate Prof Hsu Liyang, an infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, meanwhile said D614G has been in the republic since February.
ST also noted an article in the Cell journal reported that the D614G strain was “rapidly becoming dominant in the world” but was “unlikely to have a major impact on the efficacy of vaccines currently in the pipeline”.
Wang added that while the variant is genetically more fit, it did not mean it would spread easily.