KUALA LUMPUR, August 18 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) today said its quick and precise intervention managed to control the spread of D614G, which it described as an aggressive and contagious coronavirus strain.
According to Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the mutated virus in the lab is almost 10 times more infectious than the usual coronavirus.
“The research that has been conducted in the laboratory shows a spike protein mutation or if we look at the surface of the virus there are thorn-like features. Mutation occurs in the protein contained in the thorns,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press conference today.
“This spike mutation, which is also known as D614G, is said to have a high infectious rate, almost 10 times higher than usual Covid-19 virus.”
He also stated that the MOH’s quick action to isolate Covid-19 patients and individuals who were exposed to the positive cases, but tested negative, yielded success in preventing the spread of the D614G strain of coronavirus.
“By monitoring the clusters, we found that Sivagangga persons-under-investigation cluster spread faster. With the quick intervention at the right time, we managed to control the virus transmission,” he added.
“There are high chances that the quick spread might have been caused by the mutated virus and the people who were exposed to the virus did not follow the standard operating procedures (SOP).”
Dr Noor Hisham stressed that research is still at its early stage and there are more questions than answers.
International scientists have disputed Dr Noor Hisham’s claim that D614G, “discovered by scientists in July 2020”, is 10 times more infectious and that vaccines under development may be ineffective against that mutation.
Singapore scientists, as reported by The Straits Times, noted that this strain was already circulating in Singapore since six months ago in February, saying there is not enough scientific evidence to prove the purportedly faster transmission rate of the virus.
Columbia University virologist Dr Angela Rasmussen from the United States also rebutted Malaysia’s claim that the D614G strain was “found to be 10 times easier to infect other individuals”.
“In vitro infectivity, prevalence, and phylogenetic data don’t prove this mutation makes #SARSCoV2 more transmissible,” she said in a tweet today.