These days, scrolling through your Facebook news-feed is like watching PM Lee make a sudden announcement: you never know what you’re going to get.
One day you could come across a cute video of a cat doing yoga, and on another you’d stumble upon a post saying that leisure travel may not be possible this year.
Yesterday, you chanced upon an earth-shattering post that filled you with dread.
Reader: Yes, I can’t believe Ah Hock and Lina broke up after ten years together.
No, not that.
On Sunday (Aug 16), Malaysia’s director-general of health, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, shared a post on Facebook claiming that scientists have detected a new strain of the coronavirus in Malaysia, one that is “10 times” more infectious.
Upon reading this, you promptly ordered an additional 24 boxes of face masks, 30 bottles of hand sanitiser, and 12 cups of bubble tea, because bubble tea cures your anxiety.
But is this something we should be worried about?
Well, experts in Singapore don’t seem to think so.
It Turns Out That The ’10 Times More Infectious’ Coronavirus Strain is Also In S’pore & It’s Not New
Experts say there is no real scientific data to make the claim that D614G – the supposedly new coronavirus strain – is more infectious, let alone assert that it’s 10 times more transmissible.
In fact, this virus has been around for quite a long time, longer than Lawrence Wong has been our Education Minister.
Associate Professor Hsu Liyang, an infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist, said this mutation has been circulating here since February.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Prof Hsu said that Singapore sequences a sampling of the virus from Covid-19 patients here, and has found more than 100 patients with the D614G strain.
Since only a fraction of virus samples are sequenced, this could mean that there are thousands of patients here infected with the D614G mutation.
But, as I said, there’s nothing to worry about.
This coronavirus mutation has also been found in the Philippines, according to ST.
Philippines Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire echoed the sentiments of experts here, stating that there’s no definitive study demonstrating that this strain is more transmissible.
Vaccines Will Still Be Effective
In his post, Dr Noor made another alarming claim; that vaccines being developed may be ineffective against the D614G strain.
But this isn’t true either, says Professor Ooi Eng Eong.
“This mutation would certainly not impact vaccine efficacy since vaccines would generate antibodies that bind to many different parts of the virus spike protein and not just be limited to the site of mutation.”
Furthermore, one article published in Cell, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, said the mutation is “unlikely to have a major impact on the efficacy of vaccines currently in the pipeline”.
So, there’s no need to panic.
The coronavirus will likely continue to mutate, but this doesn’t mean it will become more transmissible.
So, don’t believe everything you read on Facebook.
Reader: Are you saying there’s a chance that Ah Hock and Lina could still be together?
You really need to let that go, dear reader.
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