By Staff Writer Jashlene Cawagas
Posted by News and Features Editor Roxy Hudson
A variant of Covid-19, called Sars-Cov-2, has been detected from samples collected in India. The “double-mutant” virus is the cause of a COVID-19 case rate increase in India as well as in other countries.
According to BBC News, 10,787 samples collected from 18 countries showed 771 cases of known variants. In the UK, there are 736 cases of Sars-Cov-2; South Africa currently has 34 cases, while Brazil has one and the U.S. have 374 cases.
Viruses mutate all the time. For this variant, the question is whether it will be immune to the vaccine or not. It is important to know if the vaccines will work to counter not only the original virus but its variants as well. The Indian Sars-Cov-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) found that most virus mutations tend to be insignificant compared to the original. But some variant mutations, such as the ones in the UK and South America, can increase infection rates or result in higher mortality rates.
Although this virus scientifically presents itself as adverse and more dangerous than the original strain, it requires the same public health response. Increased testing, tracking of close contacts, the prompt isolation of cases, as well as the enforcement of masks and social distancing, will all help. Reducing the pressure on India’s overburdened healthcare system is key, as states in India have begun re-introducing these safety measures.
The prevention of the spread of this variant is imperative to ensure that new cases of the virus will not infect different parts of India or other countries.
“We need to constantly monitor and make sure none of the variants of concern are spreading in the population. The fact that it is not happening now doesn’t mean it will not happen in the future. And we have to make sure that we get the evidence early enough,” Dr. Shahid Jameel, a virologist at the Trivedi School of Biosciences at Ashoka University, said.
The “variants of concern” and the new double mutant do not make the virus spread more rapidly or cause a significant increase in cases. Rather, there are still unknown details such as whether this variant has the same lasting impact on patients, and more, all of which are in the process of being uncovered as scientists work to further investigate the newfound variant.
According to Indiatoday, the data regarding the variants and the new double mutant detected do not provide enough information to explain the rapid increase in cases in some states.
Scientists are still conducting research to learn more about Sars-Cov-2, however, they have confirmed that it can cause more serious illness than the original COVID-19 or death. Once a virus enters a host, it infects the cells and makes copies of itself to further spread throughout the body. Rapidly cloning itself can result in errors, which create genetic mutations. Due to ongoing research, the variant can either be disadvantageous to the virus or it can be helpful and make it easier to survive in the host.
The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur through direct, indirect, or close contact with infected people. The virus can go from one host to another through saliva and respiratory secretions or the infected person’s respiratory droplets, which are expelled through coughs, sneezes, talking or singing.
The new double mutant variant may inflict fear with its name, but scientists are working hard to collect data and develop a vaccine that will counter it to further ensure the safety of individuals. It is important to follow all restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus. Sars-Cov-2 is an unpredictable genetic mutation that can occur in people infected with COVID-19. In places with a multitude of COVID-19 cases, acquiring more knowledge about its variants can help prevent and stop the spread of the virus.