A new coronavirus mutation that spread from Europe to the United States has been detected in the Philippines. And the question that is on everyone’s mind is “does COVID-19 spread faster with this new form of the disease?”
Does COVID-19 spread faster after it has mutated?
According to Professor Erica Ollman Sapphire, who worked on the study, this form of COVID-19 is now the dominant form infecting people. Based on their findings, there is enough evidence to show that the virus has indeed mutated from it’s initial version.
The scientists found that this new mutation affects the spike protein. Viruses use this protein to bind and infect the cells of its host. This means that the new form of the virus can spread even faster and potentially infect more people because of this mutation.
This also means that current vaccines in development would probably need to be tested against this new form of the virus. This is because the current vaccines in development target specifically the spike cells in the virus. A mutation in these spike cells could mean that any vaccines that were in development could be less effective.
Scientists have named this new form of the virus G614, which is now the dominant strain affecting people in the Europe and in the US.
The New Form of COVID-19 Can Spread Faster
In a separate report, Bette Korber of Los Alamos National Laboratory shares, “Our global tracking data show that the G614 variant in Spike has spread faster than D614. We interpret this to mean that the virus is likely to be more infectious.”
Another study found that the G614 form of COVID-19 is about three to nine times more infectious than the previous form. This means that it can spread more easily and infect more people in a shorter span of time compared to D614.
At the moment, it is still unknown if this new form has spread to Asian countries, such as the Philippines.
But is COVID-19 more dangerous now?
Because of this new mutation, one thing that is on everyone’s mind aside from “does COVID-19 spread faster because of this mutation?”, is if G614 is a more dangerous form of the virus.
Based on recent findings, there is still no “evidence of G614 impact on disease severity”.
This claim is backed by the findings of researchers in Duke University who tested the new form of the virus. They used blood donated by patients who recovered from the old form of COVID-19, and found that it can still fight off the virus.
They initially worried that because the virus is more infectious, it can grow quickly inside the body. However, this was not the case for this mutation.
In a statement, Professor Lawrence Young of the University of Warwick in the UK said, “The current work suggests that while the G614 variant may be more infectious, it is not more pathogenic. There is a hope that as SARS-CoV-2 infection spreads, the virus might become less pathogenic.” He was not involved directly in the study.
Despite these findings, more research still needs to be done regarding this new mutation. We still do not know a lot about COVID-19, and what we know right now can change any time.
The new strain has recently appeared in the Philippines
Recently, the Philippine Genome Center or PGC, has found 9 people in the Philippines who were infected with this new strain. However, the samples tested were from Quezon City, and does not necessarily mean that the new strain has spread throughout the country.
However, it could be possible that the spike of cases in the country could be due to this new strain. But at the moment, we still cannot confirm if this is the case.
How can people protect themselves?
With the new form of the virus becoming more infectious, people need to take better precautions. A more infectious virus means that it can quickly spread to a lot of people, which can cause another outbreak.
Here are some tips to help protect yourself from being infected.
Practice social distancing
By far, social distancing is the best way to lower your chances of getting sick. Avoiding being in close proximity with other people significantly lowers the risk of infection.
If you need to go outside, avoid crowded places, and if possible public transportation. It is also important to minimize your time outside, since the longer you stay out, the higher your chances are of getting infected.
It would also be best to avoid places such as gyms, restaurants, supermarkets, and places of worship since people tend to gather in these places.
Wear a face mask
Another important tip would be to always wear a face mask. Wearing a face mask prevents you from inhaling any droplets that might be infected.
Wearing a face mask also helps protect other people from getting sick if you are the one infected. So all in all, it’s good practice to wear a mask if you are outside.
Keep your hands and your surroundings clean
It is also important to wash your hands as often as possible, especially if you have just gone outside. You can get infected with COVID-19 by touching contaminated surfaces, and touching your mouth or your face. So hand washing should be a top priority for everyone.
You also need to keep your surroundings clean, especially if you are living with other people that go in and out of the house. This is because it is possible that they might have the virus on them, and it can contaminate the surfaces inside your home.
Stay at home as much as possible
Lastly, stay home and stay safe. By staying home, you are avoiding other people who might be infected. This means that you are effectively lowering your chances of getting infected to zero.
If you stay home, you are one less person to get infected, which means that there is less of a chance that you can spread the virus.
Learn more about COVID-19, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.