A year had already passed when the world took months of quarantine under strict health protocols and a series of simultaneous lockdowns in different parts of the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the middle of 2020, health experts and scientists race to create a vaccine to help fight infectious disease.
Quick efforts to open the economy started by imposing strict health guidelines, especially in the tourism industry, by asking tourists for fit to fly certificates and business establishments to have employees undergo mandatory rapid antigen tests for safety and precaution.
Thanks to technology, information about COVID-19 and government response to the pandemic is disclosed quickly to the people. As of writing, there are now 109 million recorded COVID-19 cases worldwide—61.4 million of which are recoveries and 2.41 million are deaths.
Countries like the United States, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Russia are among the countries that have the most recorded cases. With all the efforts exerted by health experts, COVID-19 reinforced itself through mutation, and people in the medical field are a bit panicky about it.
Here some things you didn’t know about the COVID-19 mutation
The same strain that caused COVID-19, which is SARS-CoV-2, has been mutating. Virus replication is a commonly observable phenomenon in the study of microbiology.
Viruses multiply themselves as they try to survive in a particular environment. But to some extent, some viruses happen to carry an error in their DNA sequence that results in mutation–a newer version of the original virus.
Many variants are relatively unremarkable as these emerge and often go undetected and disappear. Still, some can stay for quite a while and create havoc in the environment where it insists on thriving.
The New COVID-19 Strains
Fast forward to 2021; the medical community finally released vaccines that will help fight the spread of coronavirus. As an estimation, it could take a couple of years before all people could be vaccinated.
But as efforts to contain the virus are in the works, the virus has already gone through a period of evolution and adaptation process that resulted in three more variants. The new modifications were are namely, B.1.1.7 which was identified in the UK, B.1.351 which emerged in South Africa, and the P.1 variant which was found in Brazil.
Experts say that these new viruses that could be present in the air through droplets generated by an infected person can easily clip themselves to human cells by passing through our ACE-2 nose receptors. These fast transmissions of the said virus variations are highly observable among adults with underlying health issues or comorbidities. Cases found in children are rare as they have fewer ACE-2 receptors, unlike adults.
Are the New COVID-19 Variants More Contagious?
Epidemiologists say that the UK variant is highly transmissible than the variant found in South Africa with 50% transmission among symptomatic people compared to the P.1 variant that needs to be observed further before concluding whether it is more transmissible than the earlier versions of the virus.
Observations by health experts say that although these mutations could be more infectious, it doesn’t seem that the illness experienced by symptomatic patients is worse. But regardless of the observable virus behavior in patients, there is not enough proof that the new variants could cause milder or more severe disease.
Although there is no indication for SARS-CoV-2 to mutate any further as it is currently dominating its environment, experts warn the public that it is still unpredictable. That is why people are encouraged to make continuous efforts to follow health measures to help stop the spread of the virus.
Check-out Harley Medic International’s infographic to learn more about the COVID-19 mutation.