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World Health Day: Surge in Covid Cases and New Strains, Is Post-Covid Era A Far Cry?
The unpredictable nature of coronavirus is proving costly to human lives and global economies. But the best way to fight any strain of the virus is to observe the health and hygiene protocols.
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Like all other viruses, the coronavirus that has led to the outbreak of the deadly pandemic keeps mutating and changing its form as it passes on from person-to-person. A vast chunk of these mutations is inconsequential, and do not really affect how the virus behaves. However, the more contagious variant of the virus, which was initially discovered in the UK, has now spread to more than 50 nations, including India, and is believed to be causing a spike in daily caseload.
But a pertinent question that arises here is how far and wide has the new variant actually spread – and if it can already be a reason for the surges in other countries. The answer to this question may not be clear for some time to come, as the necessary genome testing is still a rare exercise. As per the available data, there are at least three other worrisome variants which are spreading, though less widely - one has been identified in South Africa and the other two in Brazil.
Scientists who have extensively carried out research into the new variant have concluded that these tend to spread quickly, are easily transmissible and more infectious. Fortunately, so far, the new variant hasn’t caused more severe illness or a spurt in the death rate or any other kind of unusual clinical manifestations.
Current Scenario: Surge in Cases & Vaccination Drive
Genome scientists are hunting down and detecting changes in the form of the virus by sequencing its genome post collecting a swab from the infected patient. By cracking the genetic code of the virus, scientists track its mutations. India was the fifth nation globally to undertake this process. Since then, there has been record 11 million cases and over 150,000 fatalities from the disease. Hence, constant monitoring is the need of the hour to battle the spread of the infection.
Though none of the new variants is appearing to be deadlier or causing more severe outbreak, the increased caseload is adding strain on the hospitals and resulting in deaths. The emergence of these variants has added to the urgency in carrying out mass vaccination drives.
Presently, no one can really gauge how far worse the spread of the infection is. Experts predict that more variants might emerge as the pandemic unfolds, but it isn’t necessary that they be nastier. Generally, the manner in which variants evolve with time is they become more contagious and less virulent in nature. Viruses do not kill their hosts as they wish to continue spreading and multiplying. Therefore, it’s less likely that a more dangerous form would evolve. Also, the current vaccines are expected to protect against the known Covid-19 variants to some extent. Manufacturers are working on creating boosters which they hope to be more effective against even the new variants.
The unpredictable nature of coronavirus is proving costly to human lives and global economies. But the best way to fight any strain of the virus is to observe the health and hygiene protocols. With this in mind, we must continue sanitizing ourselves, wearing masks, and observe social distancing. In the meantime, efforts are underway to learn more about the deadly virus and its emerging variants.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.