The coronavirus pandemic has become a huge public health issue around the world. Globally, around 190 million people have been infected. Furthermore, the recent discovery of additional variations, as well as their proliferation, has been a difficult and puzzling problem for health-care systems all over the world. So, what are the various options?
Understanding the variants
Viruses evolve by acquiring mutations and becoming more diverse as they propagate. Most mutations have little or no impact, but some have an impact on the virus’s propagation, severity of sickness, diagnostic tools, and reaction to existing treatments and vaccinations.
The World Health Organization has been continuously monitoring and assessing the newer variants in collaboration with its team of experts, national authorities, and researchers, and names have been assigned for them based on Greek letters for ease of public discussion, even though scientists use different naming systems.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified circulating forms of variation as “variant of concern” and “variant of interest,” while the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified them as “variant of high consequence.”
The terms “variants of concern” (VOC) and “variants of interest” (VOI) are not interchangeable. Viruses with genetic alterations that impact illness transmissibility and severity, causing immunological escape, diagnostic and therapeutic escape, and a dramatically increased community transmission and number of cases worldwide are known as variants of interest (VOI). Eta, Iota, Kappa, and Lambda are the currently identified variations of interest.
Despite the fact that the new mutations affect the virus’s reactivity to post-vaccinated sera, positive results from many trials have demonstrated that vaccination reduces hospitalisation and case fatality.
The VOI with one or more of the following features is known as a variant of concern (V0C). It has an enhanced virulence or pattern of clinical presentation, and it may be immune to established therapies, vaccinations, or diagnostic detection, and it promotes transmission or produces adverse changes in Covid-19 epidemiology. The versions of concern are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. The Alpha variation was discovered initially in the United Kingdom, followed by Beta in South Africa, Gamma in Brazil, and Delta in India. All of them have been linked to an increase in transmissibility, severity, case mortality, decreased treatment responsiveness, and post-vaccinated sera. Delta plus, a Delta variant sublineage with an extra mutation, K147N, has just been discovered in Nepal and India. This could be a serious threat to the third wave in the United States.
Do vaccines help?
Despite the fact that the new mutations, or variations, change the virus’s reactivity to post-vaccinated sera, promising results from many trials have demonstrated a decrease in hospitalisation and case fatality in vaccinated people. A complete immunisation dose (for vaccines that require two doses) is required.
There’s still a chance that fresh varieties will arise. The virus will continue to change as long as it spreads across the population. In this case, proven disease management strategies, comprehensive immunisation, and adherence to protective measures and safety regulations are critical for controlling the virus and preventing the spread of newer strains and variants. People must follow safety practises to keep themselves safe, while health facilities must be equipped with resources to deal with a probable third wave.