Top virologist says Covid-19 likely to mutate, making current tests useless

PHOTO: Dr Thiravat Hemachudha - Siamrath

A prominent Thai virologist is warning that the Covid-19 coronavirus is mutating and could return in a different, more contagious, or potentially, more dangerous or less dangerous, form. Thiravat Hemachudha, director of the Health Science Centre of Emerging Diseases at Chulalongkorn University, says that Thailand “should begin preparing for possible ‘genetic code alterations’ of the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.” He cited recent findings from studies in Vietnam and China on coronavirus strains in horseshoe bats, which inhabit Southeast Asia, including Thailand.

“So we have to prepare to deal also with other possible new strains of the coronavirus that include the 2019 novel coronavirus, which is likely to undergo multiple genetic code alterations.”

Radical changes in the genetic code of the coronavirus may result in current screening techniques becoming ineffective, according to Thiravat.

Studies in both Vietnam and China conducted into coronavirus strains in horseshoe bats have revealed that it was the wild-animal-eating habits of humans that made them vulnerable the coronavirus in bats that has jumped the species to also infect humans now, according to Thiravat.

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These findings also undermine the theory that the Covid-19 escaped from a biological weapons testing laboratory. Many, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have blamed China for the “lab leak”.

In a related story, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says the Cabinet has yet to approve a proposed 600 million baht to fund cooperation on Covid-19 vaccine development between Thailand, Oxford University and a vaccine research company in the UK. He says the budget will be spent in part to develop a vaccine factory in Thailand.

SOURCES: Chiang Rai Times | Bangkok Post

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