Indonesia has detected a novel coronavirus strain within its borders that is believed to be more infectious than others, according to The Jakarta Post.
The Jakarta-based Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology told The Post on Saturday that the new strain of the coronavirus—dubbed the D614G mutation—had been detected in eight of 22 whole-genome sequences reported in Indonesia.
The institute said that this accounted for “nearly 40 percent of the genomes reported in Indonesia” at present.
“If we analyze more samples, we might come up with clearer information,” Eijkman Institute chairman Amin Soebandrio told The Post.
According to research published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, the D614G mutation was first observed in late January in China.
Science Magazine explained that the mutation name comes from a change in the amino acid in position 614 from aspartic acid (abbreviated as D) to glycine (abbreviated as G). Previous research has indicated that the D614G mutation may become the dominant strain of the new coronavirus, though the impact of the D614G mutation on transmission, disease, and vaccine development remains largely unknown.
Amin told The Post that researchers were still unclear on the percentage of people carrying the mutated coronavirus strain. He repeated claims made by other researchers that the mutated strain was 10 times more infectious.
“We will keep conducting the whole genome sequencing process to understand the characteristics of the mutation,” Amin said. “These sequences are important epidemiological data to trace the virus' mobility.”
Neighboring Malaysia and the Philippines also detected the same mutation in a number of cases recorded in August. However, the consequences of the new mutation are not yet clear.
Indonesia continues to battle a growing coronavirus outbreak within its borders and reported a surge in new infections over the past three-day long weekend.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Indonesia has reported over 174,000 coronavirus cases and more than 7,400 deaths as of Monday, August 31.
Indonesian epidemiologist Syahrizal Syarif told Reuters on Sunday, August 30, that according to his modeling, Indonesia will breach 500,000 coronavirus cases by the end of the year.
“The situation is serious…Local transmission currently is out of control,” he told the outlet.
Still, deputy director of the Eijkman Institute Herawati Sudoyo told Reuters on Sunday that more research was necessary to determine whether the D614G variant was responsible for the proliferation of coronavirus cases across Indonesia.
The resurgence in new coronavirus cases has put a strain on local resources.
At Friendship Hospital, the largest government-run hospital in the capital of Jakarta, doctors had to turn away some patients as daily referrals surged to an average of 83 patients a day, The Straits Times reported.
On Thursday, August 27, the hospital received 103 referrals but was only able to accommodate 12, The Times said.