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3 Major Covid-19 Coronavirus Mutations Exist In Malaysia & It Just Might Save Us

3 Major Covid-19 Coronavirus Mutations Exist In Malaysia & It Just Might Save Us

Kirat Kaur

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Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin revealed today that 3 mutated strains of the coronavirus that cause Covid-19 exist in Malaysia.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Covid-19 vaccine and medication development via international collaboration, Khairy said that strains A, B and C of the novel coronavirus mutations have happened in Malaysia.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge mapping the spread of the virus from the epicentre in Wuhan China, discovered that it mutated into three distinct strains that spread unevenly across the globe.

  • Strain A – Closely related to the virus found in both bats and pangolins, considered root of the outbreak and present in Wuhan.
  • Strain B – Separated by two mutations from A, caused the majority of infections in Wuhan and patients in East Asia.
  • Strain C – Daughter of B, source of majority of European infections, possibly spread via Singapore.
The three major SARS-CoV-2 strains.
(Credit: metro.co.uk)

The researchers also note that the A and C types are found in significant proportions outside East Asia, especially in Europeans and Americans.

How did the 3 strains get here?

Phylogenetic network analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes.
(Credit: PNAS)

Last week, Health Director General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah suggested that there was a possibility of three strains of the virus present in Malaysia.

He also postulated that Malaysia’s current Covid-19 infections could be from a different strain of the virus.

Remember phase 1 of our first wave, basically 16 of our patients came from China … so we know that probably this group was from the Wuhan group. Whether we are seeing a different strain of the virus depends, as they say now in China probably it is strain B and they say in Asia is strain C and in US and Europe is strain A for example.

Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Health Director General.

However, Dr Noor Hisham was quick to point out that it is too early to confirm as local strains of the virus must first be isolated and tagged.

Spread of the three novel coronavirus strains across the world.
(Credit: metro.co.uk)

Every cloud has a silver lining

While there have been hypotheses of the virulence and pathogenicity of each of these novel coronavirus strains, their presence in Malaysia may actually present us with an advantage in vaccine development.

Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein together with Khairy revealed that several nations have expressed interest in collaborating with Malaysia on Covid-19 vaccine development.

Through a move they call “science diplomacy”, the government plans to place Malaysia in the position of first mover advantage to receive Covid-19 vaccine and medication.

With the presence of the three major novel coronavirus strains in the country, it makes Malaysia a highly attractive location for vaccine testing.

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round blue objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S.
(Credit: NIAID-RML/Flickr)

The plan is to get Malaysia involved in Covid-19 vaccine development and human trials by various countries. Among the possible collaborative relationships are with China, United Kingdom, South Korea and India.

Another home advantage is the country’s racial diversity that can allow researchers to observe the effects of the vaccines in Chinese, Indian and Malay genes among others.

While the ministries are working their diplomacy muscles, Malaysia is also set to begin drug trials for Covid-19 treatment in a mega-project by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that spans across the globe.


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