Covid-19 Variants.. Are There Concerns & Are We Prepared?

Currently, three new variants of the virus SARS-Cov-2 are creating concerns. These seem to be spreading more quickly and easily among people, causing more infections in the people. All three have been identified in the US and in many countries. This variation in the genome throws many challenges to the health sector. The presenting symptoms, morbidity and mortality and treatment modules may change. There is a fear amongst scientists as to whether the new mutant viruses would be neutralised by the existing vaccine.

What are these variants?

The covid variant identified in the UK has 23 mutations. Many of these mutations are in the spike of proteins that the virus uses to attach itself to the human cell. This variant may be associated with an increased incidence of deaths compared to other variants. The variant is known as (B.1.1.1) Further research is required.

What about variant identified In South Attica?

This variant has multiple mutations on the spiked protein. There is no evidence that this variant causes severe disease as compared to the others. This variant ( B.I.351) requires further studies. Did variant identify in Brazil? This variant has 17 mutations including 3 in the S protein. Some evidence suggests that this variant might be less vulnerable to antibodies generated by a previous Covid-19 infection or a Covid -19 vaccine, at times the mutations could be associated with newer symptoms of covid virus infection.
Besides the usual symptoms of fever, cold, throat pain, body ache and headache, some individuals may present with unusual symptoms. Vomiting, loose stools or diarrhea may precede respiratory symptoms in a few cases Loss of smell or taste takes place in 30% of people without respiratory symptoms, in some people moderate changes of loss of smell, and taste may persist for 60 days.

Do you see skin changes in mutant viruses?

The commonest change on the skin seems to be a flat red rash, covered with red bumps. There would be discolouration, blisters, itchiness or painful bumps that may appear. Covid-19 toes are seen in children and young adults. Skin infection containing pus, dis-coloured skin or pus and chilblains are possible. Severe confusion may be the only symptom in older people. This is associated with a high degree of mortality. Mild redness of eyes and conjunctivitis need to be assessed for Covid-19 infection.

Covid-19 variants .. are there concerns and are we prepared?
Why is it important to be vaccinated even if there are new variants of the virus? We should not delay the present vaccination pro-gram in expectation of new variants. Even if the vaccine is declared to be less effective against a particular strain of the virus, we need to continue to use the tools in our hand, even while we continue to improve these tools. We are all safe only when we are safe.

How to reduce mutations in viruses?

Viruses cannot undergo mutation if they do not replicate. All the three steps of vaccination, masking and social distancing are extremely important. If the spread of the virus is stopped by reducing its multiplication, then the mutations and variants would also stop. In the present resurgence of the second wave Wm are the differences that you see from the wave it May last year This yea’ the disease is spread very very fast. Within the family, all are getting infected in a span of 2 to days. The lung involvement is more aggressive and many are requiring higher oxygen require menus. Clot formation it brains heart and kidney: and their vessels ha: become more common am challenging. Oral ant viral drugs appear to lx less effective and mon patients are requiring hospitalisation.

What factors can reduce the health burden in this second wave?

The usual precautions o masking, distancing am hand washing would always be paramount. Jr addition mass, the quick vaccination program is imported taut. House to house vaccination by mobile vans h the need of the day. Every road corner then should be a centre for vaccination.

Will, there will be new coronavirus variants?

Yes, as long as coronavirus spreads through the population, mutations will continue to happen. New van ants are detected even a week. Once the infection pattern changes, it is hard to believe that whether the changes are due to the flu virus or changes in human behaviour. It is disheartening to note that. similar changes to tit spike protein arise independently on multiple continents.
Coronavirus is here to stay for 2…3 years. It is likely to come in a waveform periodically unless we maintain masking, social distancing and vaccination In view of the constantly changing pattern of the spilt( protein of the virtu, though the present13 available vaccines a capable of creating adequate neutralising antibodies, unless the bash precautionary measure; are adopted, this car become more challenging and difficult to control There is no guarantee that the future mutant strain: would be neutralised b3 the presently available vaccines.

Categories : COVID-19
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Dr Jay Deshmukh is Chief Physician and Director, Sunflower Hospital, Nagpur Honorary Physician to Honorable Governor of Maharashtra and PondicherryCentral. Dr Jay Deshmukh is an M.B.B.S., M.C.P.S., F.C.P.S., M.N.A.M.S., MD From Internal Medicine – Bombay and New Delhi.

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