:We first heard about the COVID-19 virus in November 2019 when it struck Wuhan, China. Since then, it has wreaked havoc across the globe killing hundreds of thousands in its way. Causing inexplicable grief and sadness. Destroying lives and families with the threat still actively taking lives. Though the death toll decreased for some time by using vaccin
Researchers and Scientists all across the world worked together to come up with the vaccine to counter the pandemic. In less than a year, a vaccine was available to provide to the public. Scientists from every part of the globe worked together and collaborated to create a vaccine. Usually, vaccine can take years and the determination and commitment of our scientists made the impossible possible.
Vaccines and Mutations:
Vaccines have given a sense of protection. We have seen the number of COVID-19 related deaths decrease dramatically wherever vaccine are provided. However, what we are also seeing are the variants or mutations of the COVID-19 virus. Which is more dangerous and seemingly easier to infect people as compared to the original coronavirus.
COVID-19 Variants and Vaccine:
Late last year we saw that variants of the COVID-19 are recorded in patients. Those variants seem to be deadlier and affect the patient in a very adverse manner.
Why are We seeing COVID-19 Variants?
As the coronavirus moves from one patient to another, we see it evolve and mutate. It is the natural way of things. We have also seen the mutations are quite prominent in different locations. Thus in different countries, we might see completely different variants of the same disease.
As you might be aware, each year we get a new flu shot, this is because every year a different variant of the flu attacks the general population. Thus the flu shot for that specific year is developed keeping in mind these variants. So that the body can defend itself from the new strains of the flu.
COVID-19 Raging Across The World
We are seeing the same thing with the coronavirus, unfortunately, it is proving to be far deadlier and spreading faster than we could have imagined. Even with all the precautionary measures taken by countries, we have seen how the Covid-19 virus has filled hospitals to capacity with no respite.
The death toll in certain countries has reached over a hundred thousand with the United States of America reaching 500,000 marks a few months ago and Brazil following with almost 400,000 deaths. Most recently, India has been struck with a new variant which is proving impossible to stop with the country running out of oxygens and hospital beds. India crossed the 200,000 marks two days ago
Some of the key variants that have been highlighted are as follows:
COVID-19 Variant B.1.1.7
This was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020 and amounted to almost 60% of all cases in the country by December.
This UK variant has spread in many countries such as India and Pakistan increasing COVID-19 patients in hospitals with severe complications not seen in the original variant.
COVID-19 Variant B.1.351
This variant was first seen in South Africa and it can reinfect people who already have had coronavirus. South Africa has seen more than 1.5 million cases and almost 55,000 deaths.
This is a severe type of virus with the ability to infect people again. Another cause for concern is that the patient does not respond to treatment as they used to when infected by the original coronavirus.
COVID-19 Variant B.1.617
This is the homegrown variant of the Corona virus that has struck India. The imagery coming out from the country is heartbreaking, to say the least. Hospitals are filled with capacity and people are dying due to the non-availability of oxygen.
India recently broke the United States of America’s record of cases in one day. She reports 360,00 new cases and 3300 deaths. The country has more than 3 million active cases and the numbers are growing each day.
COVID-19 in India
The variant has struck densely populated cities of India which is the second-most populous country in the world. The variant is considered highly transmissible and dangerous. Moreover, the variant is found in 17 other countries thus far according to reports.
Why are The Variants Worrisome?
The number one concern is the efficacy of the vaccines that are available against these new variants. Will they protect us against these new variants as they are effective against the original covid-19 virus.
That is a primary concern across the globe. While it is established that the effectiveness does decrease in certain variants, they still provide some kind of protection against the virus. This protection can help reduce the chances of death and severe complications from the virus.
Another issue is the differentiating symptoms found in different variants. This makes it hard to diagnose the covid-19 virus. Sometimes there is no fever in the patient which is the most effective tell-tale sign of the virus.
The date is thin as new developments seen every day. The new variants affecting patients result in try different courses of treatment and management methods to try to help the patients. It will take years before proper data is available on how to manage new variants.
Effectiveness of Vaccine
The vaccines have been helpful but with new variants, the effectiveness of the vaccine has been brought into question. Some have even suggested we might need a yearly COVID-19 vaccine like we need the flu shot.
Things are still in a state of flux as frontline workers and scientists uncover new information about the virus.
What Can We Do on an Individual Level?
Meanwhile, we need to play our role as responsible members of society and maintain social distancing protocols outlined by healthcare bodies. Do not go to crowded places and avoid going out of your home unless absolutely necessary. Maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently.
Maintain social distancing and wash your hands frequently. Wear masks when going outside. Do not mingle with people, avoid parties that can lead to sickness and death. You might not become sick with the virus but you might pass it on to your parents or grandparents who might not be so lucky.
Do your duty and pray we get through this pandemic together.