WHO last week once again warned of the spread of new strains of coronavirus. What is known about these super-infectious mutations that bear the letters of the Greek alphabet as names?
The most widespread in the world are the variants Alpha (173 countries), Beta (122), Gamma (74), Delta (104). Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to mutate, and the rapid emergence of new strains is of concern: Iota, Eta, Kappa, Lambda. And the Russian version has not yet received an official name, experts are studying its characteristics. New varieties have become a real test of the effectiveness of the vaccines used, because not all of them are equally successful in coping with the new challenges of the coronavirus.
WHO tirelessly monitors the emergence of new strains in the world, their presence is established in laboratories. There are several lists:
Alerts for Further Monitoring – for only recently identified strains that carry a potential threat, for which there is still too little information.
Variants of Interest – Variants of interest that are under close scrutiny. Once in this list, the strains are named – the next letter of the Greek alphabet.
Variants of Concern are the most dangerous covid strains of concern. These are mutations that are more resistant to vaccines, altered symptoms, and increased transmission capacity.
The latest list, as of July 12, includes four Covid-19 strains that are of particular concern to WHO experts:
The British alpha strain (B.1.1.7), first discovered in the UK, caused severe quarantine for the residents of the United Kingdom last winter. It is more infectious than the original SARS-CoV-2. Symptoms: fatigue, loss of smell, severe cough; Beta strain (B.1.351), or South African. First discovered last December. As usual, more contagious than previous options. Often the target of attack is young healthy people; Gamma strain (P.1), or Brazilian variant. Revealed in November last year in the city of Manaus. Differs in the number of mutations – more than 17. Delta strain (B.1.429), or Indian. First discovered in October 2020. Indian scientists warned the government about the infectiousness of this mutation and the threat of an outbreak, but appropriate measures were not taken. The WHO said that today the Indian strain of the coronavirus is one of the most infectious.
Delta is characterized by the addition of symptoms such as abdominal pain and hearing problems to cold symptoms, as well as the possibility of black fungusleading to blindness due to mucosal lesions. Typically, black mold occurs during treatment covid.
Pfizer’s Delta vaccine is down to 64% effective, up from the usual 95%. Although, as reported by the Israeli Ministry of Health, it is quite reliable protects against severe form diseases – efficiency is 93%.
It’s time to get acquainted a little with other variants of the deadly coronavirus, which appear with enviable regularity, there are four of them in the VOI list:
Eta-strain (B.1.525), first reported in Nigeria and Great Britain; Iota-strain, while “mastering” the USA; The kappa strain is a mutated variant of Delta and is called Delta +. Considered more dangerous than the original version; The lambda strain (C.37) was first discovered in August last year in Peru, in Chile about 1/3 of all cases are attributed to it. Has spread to Britain and South America, showing resistance to vaccines. There is no official confirmation of a higher infectivity. Experts admit that it can bypass antibodies after vaccination.
In the list of Alerts for Further Monitoring, that is, little studied, WHO has included 12 strains. Among them is Epsilon (B.1.429), discovered in March 2020 in the United States. According to researchers at the University of Washington and Vir Biotechnology labs, the effectiveness of Moderna and Pfizer against this option can be reduced by up to 50-70%. This is due to the ability of the virus to bypass antibodies.
Meanwhile, cases of simultaneous “attacks” of several variants of the coronavirus are recorded in the world. In Thailand, for example, there were already several of them. And in Belgium a 90-year-old unvaccinated woman died, which was found to have strains Alpha and Beta. A 90-year-old resident of the city of Aalste (East Flanria) was hospitalized in March with COVID-19. Within five days, despite the treatment, the woman’s condition rapidly deteriorated, and the disease was fatal.
Experts found that in the body of a woman who was not vaccinated, two strains of coronavirus were present at once – “alpha” and “beta”. Scientists speculate that she contracted the infection from two different people. This is the first documented and scientifically proven case of its kind. However, the researchers argue that, although rare, double infections do occur. Scientists admit that such cases may lead to the emergence of combined strains of the virus.