The Corona virus, it’s variants and the way forward

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. However, some will become seriously ill and require medical attention. Older people and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, or cancer are more likely to develop serious illnesses.

Mode of transmission

The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe. These particles range from larger respiratory droplets to smaller aerosols.

Variants

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties. However, some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures. 

Variants are as follows

Alpha

Beta

Gamma

Delta

Omicron

India’s Third Wave of covid is with two variants Delta and Omicron

 

Delta variant

The Delta variant of COVID-19 has been called a variant of concern by WHO because of its increased transmissibility and increased ability to cause a severe form of the disease. Where the Delta variant is identified, it quickly and efficiently spreads between people.  The Delta variant is highly contagious, about twice as contagious as previous variants. However, the precautions, such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping distance from others, and wearing masks, still work against the Delta variant.  Those who are unvaccinated are more susceptible to the Delta variant. 

Omicron(COVID-19 variant)

When a virus is circulating widely and causing numerous infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more opportunities it has to undergo changes. The highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 is driving an unprecedented surge of infections globally

Omicron has now been detected in most countries, after the variant was first detected in November 2021. 

Early findings suggest that there is a reduced risk of hospitalization for Omicron compared to the Delta variant. Increased transmission is expected to lead to more hospitalizations. That increase causes strain on frontline workers and healthcare systems, which in turn can result in more deaths.

The Omicron variant is more contagious than previous variants. However, being vaccinated and taking precautions are critical in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and these actions have been effective against other variants.  

The rapid spread of new variants offers clues to how SARS-CoV-2 is adapting and how the pandemic will play out over the next several months. How SARS-CoV-2 evolves over the next several months and years will determine what the end of this global crisis looks like — whether the virus morphs into another common cold or into something more threatening such as influenza or worse.

Best tips to reduce risk of covid19

Protect yourself and others from infection by staying at least 1 metre apart from others wearing a properly fitted mask,

Wash hands often use soap and water /hand wash/sanitizers

Avoid contact with those who have cold or flu-like symptoms.

Get vaccinated when it’s your turn and follow local guidance.

 practice respiratory etiquette, for example by coughing into a flexed elbow, and staying home and self-isolating until you recover if you feel unwell.

Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing

Go to the doctor if u have fever cough cold and breathlessness

Lead a systematic and hygienic lifestyle  and maintain a proper diet

WHO continues to work against virus variants identified since the start of the pandemic. WHO and its international networks of experts are monitoring changes to the virus WHO reports that so far it looks like the currently available vaccines offer significant protection against severe disease. This pandemic can go away with teamwork only and it's not individual work. We must protect everyone around us as well as our nation in unity which is important for our future generations. For that, we all have to be physically and mentally stronger to face any such pandemic.

 

-Dr. Reshma Bhat