More infectious coronavirus mutation now most common strain: Researchers

A new, more infectious mutation of coronavirus is now the most common strain, researchers have warned. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 04 July 2020

More infectious coronavirus mutation now most common strain: Researchers

  • The news of a more infectious dominant strain comes as total infections have passed 11 million and over half a million people have lost their lives
  • Many countries fear that a “second wave” of infections could be approaching as they reopen their economies

LONDON: A new, more infectious mutation of coronavirus is now the most common strain, researchers have warned. 
Researchers from the UK’s University of Sheffield, Duke University and Los Alamos National Laboratory — both in the US — have warned that COVID-19 has improved its ability to enter and infect human cells since it was first discovered last year.
The new variant has a small but effective change to the “spike” protein protruding from its surface, which researchers believe allows it to infect humans more easily.
“Data provided by our team in Sheffield suggested that the new strain was associated with higher viral loads in the upper respiratory tract of patients with COVID-19, meaning the virus’s ability to infect people could be increased,” said Dr. Thushan de Silva, senior clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of Sheffield.
He added, however, that while the new variant may increase the likelihood of infection, it does not appear to make the virus more deadly or its symptoms more severe.
Scientists used information from a collaborative database created in Germany to make the discovery.
The news of a more infectious dominant strain comes as total infections have passed 11 million and over half a million people have lost their lives.
Many countries fear that a “second wave” of infections could be approaching as they reopen their economies and try to mitigate some of the financial damage caused by the pandemic’s disruptions.


Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

Updated 12 August 2020

Civilians, soldiers clash leaving 127 dead in South Sudan

  • The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers
  • An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but local youths subsequently mobilized for an attack on the army position

JUBA: Clashes between soldiers and civilians during a disarmament exercise in the central South Sudanese town of Tonj have left 127 dead, the army spokesman said Wednesday.
Major General Lul Ruai Koang told AFP that the fighting erupted on Saturday as security forces carried out an operation to disarm civilians in the area which has seen deadly inter-communal clashes.
More than six years after a civil war broke out in the country, and in the absence of a functioning government, many communities are flush with weapons, which they keep for protection or defense against cattle raids.
The violence in Tonj began after several armed youths got into a disagreement with soldiers. An initial armed confrontation was brought under control, but according to Koang the youths mobilized others for an attack on the army position.
“On the latest, the number of those killed, I can confirm to you that it rose to 127,” Koang said, adding that 45 of those killed were security forces and 82 were youths from the area.
A further 32 soldiers were injured.
Koang said two military officers involved in “triggering the clashes” had been arrested, and that the situation in Tonj had calmed down.
South Sudan is emerging from a six-year civil war that left 380,000 dead and millions displaced, and disarmament is a major stumbling block.
Experts have warned against operations that coerce people to lay down their guns without proper planning, as some communities could find themselves unable to protect themselves after their weapons are removed.
“The clashes should be an opportunity to rethink the approach to disarmament. What is the point of removing guns without addressing what drives folks to arms themselves?” Geoffrey Duke, head of the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, said on Twitter.
“We can take guns away this week & they buy a new one next week (as) long as they still see the need to have (one).”