The whole world has somewhat understood that COVID-19 is not going to go anytime soon and that they have to find ways to live with it. People seem to be making peace with every problem the virus has caused, except one – the mutation of SARS-CoV-2.
From the virulent strain first found in Kent, Uk, to its much virulent mutated strain found in India, the various strains of the virus have wreaked havoc across the world. Currently, the world is grappling with the strain found in India, more popularly known as the Delta variant.
The confusion over the new strains is really obvious because even the experts have claimed that the current mutations may not be the most dangerous yet and that the battle is not over as of now. They have also suggested that the world might see more strains of the virus which would wreak more damage to the world.
Some experts have also suggested the world leaders, prepare plans to combat the new strains of Coronavirus that are emerging in different parts of the world constantly.
The most burning questions the world is facing right now are how much protection do the current vaccines offer, what makes these variants prop up, can vaccines fully protect us and how can we protect ourselves?
We have tried to cover all the questions here to solve your dilemmas. Have a look:
The emergence of new variants
As per scientific research, a virus mutates or comes up with a new variant, whenever there is any kind of change in the genetic code of the current virus strain.
Coronavirus isn’t doing anything new as many viruses and pathogens tend to mutate on their own. However, there are some viruses like COVID-19, variants of which may be genetically distinct and cause very serious complications.
Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) viruses like SARC-CoV-2 are more prone to mutate than other viruses.
For instance, B.1.351 and B.1.1.7 variants were first found in the UK back in September 2020. These were two of the initial strains of coronavirus which even today are the most predominant form of the deadly virus in several countries, including India.
With every mutation, the virus sees some particular genetic changes which can potentially make the virus even more contagious and severe. For instance, the B.1.1.7 variant was found more contagious than others while the double mutant variant has been known for showing extremely severe complications. There are some variants of COVID-19 which affect the patient’s body in such a way that it starts showing different symptoms altogether.
The main reason for worry over the emergence of a particular strain of the virus is its ability to spread faster and the kind of attack it launches on the body of the infected. Notably, it is believed that virulent viruses are smarter than others as they have the ability to dodge some of the natural antibodies and cause severe damage to the patient’s body.
Interestingly, we must understand that not all the virus variants are as dangerous or cause severe damage as we have been discussing. The strains which are genetically traced or found to be variants of concern (VOCs) are believed to be more severe.
How effective are the vaccines against COVID-19 variants?
A big reason of concern for people has been the efficacy of currently available COVID-19 vaccines against the newly emerging virus strains, as they have the ability to surpass antibodies easily, making the vaccines rather ineffective.
Well, this is not entirely true. The new variants of SARC-CoV-2 may be smarter and severe than the previous ones but the vaccines we are taking may not become completely futile. A few lab-based studies have proven that the immune response triggered due to the vaccines consists of several components and even when they reduce, the vaccine response is not supposed to die entirely.
Should we be worried about the upcoming strains?
We surely are at a risk of facing future variants and mutations of the virus. Still, getting vaccinated and following the social distancing protocols set by the local authorities is the best we can do to protect ourselves. Hence everyone should get inoculated at the earliest.
Some studies have proven that a fully vaccinated person is at low risk of suffering from severe complications and dying. In some cases, the vaccinated person has recovered quicker than others. Moreover, to tackle the upcoming strains of the virus, some booster shots may be introduced in future.
Many scientists are suggesting, instead of fearing the upcoming strains of the COVID-19, we should prepare a plan of action to keep our loved ones and ourselves safe. Getting vaccinated is the best we can do right now to save the world. The new strains will keep coming, at least for the foreseeable future. Hence, we should not let our guard down against this war against the deadly virus.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.