The Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus strain is still wreaking havoc on the world and amidst the pandemic, the news of a more infectious coronavirus strain has surfaced. This recent development has filled the hearts of people with trepidation. A Malaysian official said that the new strain can be linked to two outbreaks and it can even affect the vaccine development. This news resurfaced after a renowned health expert claimed that the D614G strain is more infectious but less deadly than the previous coronavirus strain. He further said that this explains the falling COVID-19 mortality rate and rising infection rate.
Dr. Paul Tambyah is a President-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases and is also a senior consultant at the National University of Singapore. He says that the D614G strain has been accompanied by low death rates in some parts of the world. Therefore, the D614G strain is less deadly than the other coronavirus strain. However, experts claim that the D614G strain may be 10 times more infectious than the previous coronavirus strain. Hence, the vaccines under development might not be able to tackle it. Furthermore, experts suggest that this is not a new coronavirus strain but rather a mutated one. This mutation has been seen in previous outbreaks in Europe and the U.S.
Although mutations might sound daunting, they’re a vital part of the life-cycle of a virus. Each virus has a DNA or RNA core that is enveloped by a protein case. When a virus infects a host, it starts replicating its genetic material inside the host cells and this process leads to mutations. Dr. Oscar MacLean, bioinformatics at the Centre for Virus Research at the University of Glasgow, says that during the entire duration of the pandemic, the coronavirus has mustard approximately 200 times. The D614G mutation is the best-known example of the same.
The coronavirus uses its spike protein to adhere to human cells. The D614G mutated virus differs from the previous coronavirus in the composition of one amino acid in the spike protein. Several health experts believe that it’s possible the D614G strain is prevalent in most parts of the world today. Dr. Oscar MacLean says, “By the definition of possessing unique mutations we would have thousands of strains of Sars-CoV-2. However, these viruses are all expected to be functionally very similar so it’s somewhat meaningless to use the definition.”
Scientists claim that the link between the prevalence of D614G strain in the world and the low mortality rate due to COVID-19 infections cannot be ignored. However, researchers will need to dove further into the life-cycle and reproduction of viruses to understand this strain further.