Milder form of coronavirus spread from Wuhan to Taiwan and Singapore

Variant not seen since March provides hope that vaccine could reduce severity of infections

Individuals wearing protective masks in Singapore. 

Individuals wearing protective masks in Singapore.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A milder variant of the coronavirus (COVID-19) that causes less severe infections, spread from the Chinese city of Wuhan to Taiwan early this year, researchers in Singapore said Friday (Aug. 21).

The mutation emerged in Wuhan during the early stages of the outbreak before spreading to Taiwan and Singapore, according to experts at Singapore's National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID). The variant was later transmitted through several clusters in the Southeast Asian city-state from January to March.

However, it has been contained since March. Researchers said the difference between it and other strains is the absence of the gene ORF8, leading to optimism that a vaccine that removes this gene might make infections less dangerous.

Based on the study, which was published in the medical journal The Lancet, experts have expressed the hope that the variant will spread and make the coronavirus less threatening than it is now, the Straits Times reported.

Updated : 2021-04-18 04:18 GMT+08:00