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Just when the good news of the successful clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccine was giving hope to many, the frightening news about the mutation of this coronavirus in Malaysia has again brought the sense of fear and anxiety among people.
According to news reports, an evolved or mutated strain of COVID-19 infection called D614G has been detected in Malaysia which is considered to be 10 times more infectious than the coronavirus which has been detected in the beginning of the pandemic. In this article, we will discuss in details the D614G. Take a look.
What Is D614G?
D614G is the official name given to a mutated form of COVID-19. This new strain was recently detected in Malaysia in three cases out of a cluster of 45 and is assumed to have started from a restaurant owner who has breached his quarantine of 14 days and spread the virus to these people.
You might have read or heard about the coronavirus spike proteins which are present on the outer layer and give the appearance of the crown to the virus- the reason why it is named coronavirus (corona in Latin is called a crown).  The protruding nature of these proteins help the virus in binding to the human cells and entering their body.
The spike proteins are actually a sequence of amino acid. Researchers, till now, have decoded various factors from the amino acid sequence and came to know more about the characteristics of the virus such as its contagious nature, origin, what type of vaccine should be made and many more.
The D614G is actually the mutation changes in the amino acid of the virus at the position 614, from D (aspartic acid) to G (glycine). This is the reason why it is named D614G.
Is This The First Case Of The COVID-19 Mutation?
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the virus strain has undergone multiple mutations. However, this is the first time the mutation has been reported due to the possible behavioural alteration in COVID-19.
As COVID-19 has mutated to become 10 times more infectious, it had made researcher and scientists worried about the next pandemic to come and problems in the development of vaccines for the new strain.
Some origination theories say that the virus strain was present in Wuhan since the initial outbreak and has been around since then. Some data also suggested that around 97 per cent of samples globally has this mutated strain present.
How Dangerous Is D614G strain?
D614G is considered to replicate faster than its previous variant. A lab study carried out in Florida says that this new strain can enter the human cells quickly due to the changes in its spike proteins which have enabled them to stick better and quickly with the host cells.
Though the 10-times more infectious nature of D164G has been detected in many researches, it's transmissibility and impact on the human body are still unclear.
Can D164G Strain affect Vaccine Development?
Several vaccines against COVID-19 are in a trial phase (some have passed the first trial) and are designed considering the spike proteins of the virus. Recent Oxford's vaccine has been designed in a way that it helps make antibodies against the virus spike proteins and also helps stimulate the immune system to produce special immune cells to fight against the virus.
According to a report published in the journal Cell, the mutated strain might affect the efficacy of the vaccine but only to certain extend.
The WHO and other health experts and researchers are still unclear about the nature of D164G. Till now, they don't have evidence to prove that the new strain could lead to more severe diseases in people or cause problems in vaccine development. Therefore, till further studies about this new strain are carried out, people are advised by the government to not panic and keep on to maintain hand hygiene and social distancing habits.