Ever since the Covid virus widespread, it has mutated multiple times with mainly similar symptoms. Now serious question that arises is about the extremity of the virus and how long will it keep mutating?
After the second wave of corona virus in India, ‘delta variant’ emerged and further mutated to ‘delta plus variant’. In present, country is recording delta variants cases too along with corona virus. Due to the mutation, variants have been classified under specific categories to keep it clearer. According to the symptoms and level of severity, two categories that has been introduced are VOC (Variant of concern) and VOI (Variant of interest). In total, 12 variants are active worldwide that are under observation before classifying them under tables, according to the World Health organization. Currently. Eight variants have been acknowledged, four are under variant of concern and rest four are under variant of interest.
The rationality behind naming the variants is developed by World health organization after India objected on previous approach. Previously, whichever country witnessed the mutation first, variant was called from country’s initials, for instance UK variant, Indian variant, South African variant. But now, the names are decided prior to mutation and are being differentiate accordingly.
Dr. Madan Agnihotri is a doctor and is practicing this profession for more than fifteen years now. He acknowledged the method behind naming the variants and said, ‘Naming variants after the nation’s name that discovered it first is very improper and it does not specify anything regarding illness. Names play an important role while analyzing history of medicine and so naming virus should have some meaning that can bring up the context relating to the disease’. World health organization has by now mentioned eight names for the variants, Alpha, Beta, Gama, Delta, ETA, Iota, Kappa, Lambda that are characterized under VOC and VOI in accordance with their process of evolving.
Dr. Agnihotri described mutation process and said, ‘DNA is made up of proteins and when there is a change in DNA sequence of a virus, it is called mutation. For example, if the sequence of proteins is in 1 2 3 4 5 and it got changed to 1 2 4 5 3, DNA will automatically change and the virus will mutate.’ He further added, ‘There is no limit of mutation. There are some factors that are responsible and helps the virus to adapt into a new environment. Those factors usually are environmental includes radiations. Until virus will find space to mutate successfully, we will keep witnessing new variants.’
As per the information, four variants that are under VOC (Variant of concern) and were discovered first have a different story altogether. Alpha variant was found in September 2020 in UK and later is considered as VOC. Beta variant in South Africa in May 2020 and is defined as VOC. Experts has observed two small changes in this variant as far now. Gama variant was discovered in November 2020 in Brazil and is also labelled as VOC whereas Delta was found in India by October 2020 and again two minor changes are noticed in this variant.
Variants under VOI (Variant of interest) are – ETA variant, discovered in December 2020 in different countries at the same time. Iota variant was first found in November 2020 in USA. Kappa variant in October 2020 in India and also recorded few serious cases. Lambda variant got discovered in December 2020 in Peru and in 14 June 2021 is labelled as VOI.
‘During mutation, we are witnessing some similar and some different symptoms in original virus and news variants, comparatively. Breathlessness is a significant symptom of original virus meanwhile the new variant, delta is capable of high contractibility and has dreadful symptoms than before’, said Dr. Agnihotri. Research suggests that available vaccines are 8 times less effective than delta variant.
Experts are suggesting that India is about to face 3rd wave of pandemic from August-September for longer span of time. Dr. Agnihotri told Eat News, ‘The moment people start being irresponsible and careless, avoid precautions is when rate of transmission increases and leads to the wave or the peak in cases. 3rd wave is definitely going to come in India because of the ill-considered repercussions by citizens.’ Vaccines are not 100% effective on virus and since variants are keep originating, vaccines are examined as ineffectual. According to Dr. Agnihotri, ‘No doubt, vaccines are making situation better than before. Vaccinated population will create less havoc in cases and deaths but as we are simultaneously noticing mutation and new variants, it is quite problematic for medical fraternity to introduce a vaccine that can be applicable and suitable for all kinds of variants.’
State governments are keeping precautions and getting ready for the 3rd wave as it is suggested to come between August and September, in India. It is also speculated by the experts that the wave is going to stay for more than 80 days which is long enough to create terrible circumstances.
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