COVID-19: Which variants are cause for concern among scientists and why?

By: |
August 10, 2021 10:40 AM

Here’s a look at all the variants that are being tracked.

coronavirus covidThe initiative could also provide insight into any groups of people who do not develop an immune response

Coronavirus variants: As the coronavirus – SARS-CoV-2 – spreads, it has the ability to mutate into further variants, and since the pandemic is continuing to spread, health authorities are now worried about the multiple variants of the virus. This is especially because some variants are more capable of infecting humans or evade the protection provided by vaccines. This is worrying because COVID-19 vaccine is the only protection currently available against the virus. At present, scientists are focusing on the Delta variant which is the dominant variant due to which cases are increasing rapidly globally, according to a report in IE. However, the authorities are still tracking other variants for any issue that might arise.

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Here’s a look at all the variants that are being tracked.

Delta variant: The variant, which had first been detected in India, continues to be the most worrying strain as unvaccinated populations in many countries are falling prey to COVID-19 due to the variant. Not only that, but this variant has also proved to be more capable of infecting vaccinated people than previous variants. This strain has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the WHO due to high transmissibility, ability to cause more severe infection, or ability to reduce the effectiveness of vaccine or treatment. It gives the immune system lesser response time, reducing the defences. What’s more is that this variant has further mutated into Delta Plus, which has been detected in 32 countries so far and was listed as a variant of concern by India in June. However, neither the US CDC nor the WHO has yet flagged it because authorities are not sure if it is more dangerous.

Lambda variant: The Lambda variant is being actively tracked by the authorities because it has the potential to become the next big threat. However, on the other hand, news agency Reuters cited several experts as saying that the variant, which was first detected in Peru in December last year, might be receding. The variant has still been enlisted by WHO as variant of interest due to it carrying mutations that can change transmissibility or cause the infection to be more severe. While this is still being investigated, lab studies have shown the variant to have mutations that resist antibodies induced by vaccines.

B.1.621: The variant had first been detected in Colombia in the beginning of the year when it caused a major outbreak there. The European health authorities have enlisted this variant as a variant of interest, while the UK’s Public Health England has classified it as a variant under investigation. Several key mutations are being carried by the variant, and these mutations have been linked with a higher transmission rate as well as an ability to lower the immune response. At present, 37 likely and confirmed cases of the variant have emerged in the UK, while it has also been reported in several patients in Florida.

Health experts, including White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said that full vaccination is needed so that the spread of the virus and therefore its mutation can be curbed effectively. However, others have opined that the vaccine does not prevent transmission because the virus has the ability to replicate in the nose of even a vaccinated person. Several experts have called for a second generation of vaccines for better effectiveness.

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