Covid-19 And Variants: What Should You Know?

Posted On Dec 15, 2021

Dr. Elakya

Consultant - Pulmonology

Manipal Hospitals-Salem

Covid 19 Treatment Hospital in Salem

Coronaviruses are not the new family of viruses. Scientists know about them before 2019. Several virus strains of the coronavirus family resulted in various infections in humans. Some diseases, such as flu, are mild, while the others, the SARS and MERS, cause severe respiratory symptoms.

The virus responsible for COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2. This virus was previously known to cause infections in animals. However, due to the crossing over (a process through which animal virus starts infecting humans), there was a sudden outbreak of its infection in humans in 2019. The disease was initially identified in Wuhan, China, and later on, declared as Public Health Emergency of International Concern and pandemic by World Health Organization.

During the initial phases of the research, the scientists compared the 103 samples of coronavirus collected from the patients and those present in the animals. They were not the same. This virus reportedly has a high degree of genetic similarity with the coronavirus present in the bats. SARS-CoV-2 may undergo mutation to adapt to the new host, i.e., humans. 

If you feel you have symptoms of COVID-19 then immediately visit Manipal Hospital for COVID-19 treatment in Salem.

Different Coronavirus Variants

In most cases, when a virus mutates, the new strain is less pathogenic than its older version. The Sars-CoV-2 virus had spread all over the world. The new version may likely be more potent than the older version. The world is witnessing the same phenomenon.

World Health Organization (WHO) is monitoring all the mutations that the virus is undergoing. The researchers are determining the impact of the mutation on pathogenicity than the older one. To optimize the focus of effectively controlling the spread of new variants, WHO has divided the new variants into three classes. These are Variants of Concern (VOC), Variants of Interest (VOI), and Variants under Monitoring (VUM). This classification is based on the predictability of new variants in increased transmissibility, increased virulence, or potential to reduce the effectiveness of currently known treatment and diagnostic measures.

Some Of The Variants Of Concern Are:

  • Delta (B.1.617.2): This variant emerged in India in October 2020. It causes a significant increase in cases during April 2021. It was a highly contagious variant that spread to 178 countries, including Australia, the UK, the US, and almost all countries of Europe. It is still the most dominant variant in UK and US. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has 88% efficacy against the Delta variant two weeks after the second dose. People with complete vaccination may have the breakthrough infection, but it was not as severe as non-vaccinated people. Researchers suggest that people must take the second dose as soon as it is due. Delta variant created havoc in India because the majority of the population was non-vaccinated at that particular period.

  • Omicron (B.1.1.529): This variant was reported in November 2021 in South Africa. It was considered a variant of concern by WHO on 26 November 2021. This variant is formed because of the large number of mutations. Many mutations are in spike proteins. These significant variations in spike protein may increase the transmissibility of this variant, and most importantly, the mutations may also result in vaccine effectiveness and immune system evasion.

Covid-19 Appropriate Protocol

People at all times should follow the COVID-19 appropriate protocols. 

Some of them are:

  • Maintain Social Distancing: People should take all safety measures to minimize physical contact and maintain a distance of at least 6 feet to prevent the spread. Avoid physical greetings, such as shaking hands, and instead, greet from a distance. People should lower the number of visitors to their homes and avoid social gatherings. Stay in the house for most of the time and step out only when necessary.

  • Frequently wash your hands: Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, especially before wearing and after removing the mask. Washing hands will remove or kill the germs present in your hands.

  • Avoid touching the eye or nose: Avoid touching your nose and eyes frequently. The person may have touched several surfaces that might have germs. Touching the nose or eyes with contaminated hands may allow the germs to enter the respiratory system and make people sick.

  • Maintain respiratory hygiene: People must always maintain respiratory hygiene. While coughing, they must use a handkerchief or tissue paper. If these are not available, they should cough or sneeze into the bent elbow. It is necessary to wash hands after coughing or sneezing.

  • Avoid spitting in public: Spitting in public increases the risk of spreading the COVID-19 pandemic. It increases the risk of life to others. Spitting in public is also a punishable offence under the law. 

  • Get Vaccinated: Currently, vaccination is the only way to prevent transmission and reduce the severity of the disease in case of infection. It also helps in limiting the spreading of the virus. Eligible people should get vaccinated.

  • Cleaning the frequently touched surfaces: Frequently touched surfaces may have viruses that increase the risk of transmission. It is necessary to clean the frequently touched surfaces at hospitals, public places, and even at home.

  • Other steps: Other steps are to be followed for effective management of the pandemic. Avoid forwarding any COVID-19 –related unverified information that may create a sense of anxiety and stress in public. Seek help during poor psychological health and call national helpline numbers for any COVID-19-related queries.

Importance Of Covid-19 Appropriate Protocol

Some of the advantages of following the COVID-19 appropriate protocol are:

  • Prevents transmission: The most critical step to managing any pandemic is to slow down its spread. The Omicron variant is believed to be highly contagious and fast-spreading. People must follow the COVID-19 protocol stricter than before.

  • Early containment of the disease: The severity of the pandemic is generally evaluated through reproductive numbers and positivity rate. The reproductive number is the number of people infected from each patient. Positivity rate is the number of people tested positive from every 100 people getting tested. Following COVID-19 protocol decrease these numbers indicating better management of pandemic.

  • Safeguard the children and adults: Children and the elderly are at high risk for contracting COVID-19 with increased severity. Children are not vaccinated. Adults have compromised immune systems, along with other underlying diseases. It is necessary to maintain a COVID-19 behaviour at home. 

  • Reduced social stress: Social isolation affects physical and psychological health,  as seen in earlier COVID-19 waves. Controlling the new wave at an early stage, through appropriate COVID-19 behaviour, will reduce social stress.

  • Decreased financial stress: The severity of the COVID-19 wave is directly proportional to widespread financial stress. The number of days of lockdown varies with the transmission of infection, positivity rate, and the number of people infected at a given point. Lockdown may result in shutting businesses and job losses. 

Manipal is one of the best COVID-19 treatment hospital in Salem having a team of good pulmonologists in Salem who has more than 30 years of experience together and is experienced in handling complex cases.

 

Dr. Elakya

Consultant - Pulmonology

Manipal Hospital, Salem

 

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