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Coronavirus mutation found in US may be less deadly, expert says

Coronavirus mutation found in US may be less deadly, expert says
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A coronavirus mutation that has been found in the U.S. may be less deadly but more infectious than the original virus, an expert from Singapore said this week.

Paul Tambyah, the senior consultant at the National University of Singapore, said the D614G mutation has been associated with lower death rates, which implies it is less deadly, Reuters reported Monday. This mutation has been located in Europe and North America as early as in February and has since been confirmed in parts of Asia. 

“Maybe that’s a good thing to have a virus that is more infectious but less deadly,” Tambyah, the president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, told the news service. 

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The infectious disease expert said most viruses become less deadly over time as they mutate to allow the virus to keep living off the individuals.

“It is in the virus’s interest to infect more people but not to kill them because a virus depends on the host for food and for shelter,” he said, according to Reuters. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is no evidence the D614G mutation causes more serious illness.

Malaysia’s director-general of health, Noor Hisham Abdullah, told residents to be more careful after officials think they found the strain in two clusters of infections, Reuters reported. He said the mutated virus was 10 times more infectious and warned vaccines being created may not be effective against the strain.

Singapore has also located the mutation, but Sebastian Maurer-Stroh of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research said restrictions have prevented its spread. 

Tambyah and Maurer-Stroh said the mutations will likely not alter the virus enough to render vaccines ineffective, according to the news service. 

The coronavirus has infected more than 21.9 million people, killing at least 775,439, according to data from John Hopkins University.