KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — The new COVID-19 mutation, A701V which was detected in the Benteng LD cluster in Sabah has passed on to the vast majority of third wave clusters in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the mutation was first found among 22 SARS-CoV-2 sequences, and among the third wave clusters that have been sequenced are Teratai, Benteng LD third generation, Damanlela Construction Site, Perigi, Selasih, Saguking, Tenaga, Kasih, Bah Ketil, Bukit and Kaya clusters.
“The A701V is now co-circulating with the most prominent spike mutation D614G, in conjunction with the tremendous increase of cases during the third wave.
“As most clusters have this mutation, the presence of A701V mutation may have given the virus an added advantage in becoming the dominant strain, suggesting better transmissibility,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook page today.
Dr Noor Hisham said the prevalence of A701V among cases in the third wave is 85 per cent, whereas D614G is 100 per cent.
He said globally, South Africa, Australia, Netherlands and England also reported A701V at about the same time as Malaysia.
“In GISAID (a global science initiative and primary source for genomic data of influenza viruses), the prevalence of this mutation is found to be about 0.18 per cent and the role of this mutation is yet to be determined,” he said.
To date, he said the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), National Institute of Health (NIH), Ministry of Health (MOH) have conducted analysis on more than 120 SARS-CoV-2 full genome sequences from clinical samples encompassing the first wave till the recent third wave of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia.
On the new variant from the United Kingdom with the scientific name of VUI 202012/01, Dr Noor Hisham said it is currently not found in Malaysia.
However IMR will continuously perform whole genome sequencing to monitor the presence of the variant as well as other variants and MOH will continue its vigilance with various measures put in place to prevent spill-over of the new variant into Malaysia.