SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A prominent infectious disease doctor said that the new Coronavirus has mutated increasingly common in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia and that this mutation makes it more contagious but less lethal.
Paul Tampa, a senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, said that the evidence indicates that the spread of the D614G mutation in parts of the world has coincided with lower death rates, which suggests that this mutation is less lethal.
“Maybe the presence of the virus is more contagious, but less lethal, is a good thing,” he told Reuters.
He said that most viruses usually become less deadly when they mutate.
He added, “It is in the interest of the virus to infect more people, not kill them because the virus depends on the host for food and shelter.”
The World Health Organization said scientists discovered this mutation in February as it spread to Europe and the Americas. She also said there was no evidence that the mutation led to a more serious disease.
On Sunday, the director-general of the Malaysian Ministry of Health, Noor Hisham Abdullah, pleaded with the public to exercise greater caution after authorities recently spotted what they believed to be the D614G mutation.
Sebastian Maurer-Stroh of the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology, and Research said the mutation had been detected in Singapore as well, but that containment measures had prevented its spread significantly.
Noor Hisham said that the infection of the D614G strain that was detected in Malaysia is ten times more than it was before the mutation and that the vaccines currently being developed may not be effective with this mutation.
But Tampa and Morer-Stroh said that such mutations would likely not alter the virus to the extent that it would make potential vaccines less effective.