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COVID-19 Variants: Cause for Concern?

  • April 26,2021
  • 5 Min Read
COVID-19 Variants: Cause for Concern?

More than one-third of the new cases were reported in India, the world's second-most populated country and the Covid-19 hotspot. 

The emergence of new forms of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, has created a more worrisome situation in the country. Several of these variants contain mutations that can limit the impact of prior immunity, enabling the virus to transmit more easily, and, in some cases, result in more deaths. And as the disease spreads, other variants may emerge. Which has left many tensed and intrigued with questions regarding COVID-19 and its variants.

 

COVID-19 & ITS VARIANTS: ALL WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The COVID-19 virus, like most viruses, constantly changes through mutation leading to new variants.

A variant of concern (VOC) is a variant which can spread faster, cause more severe disease, show increased resistance to current treatments or which may not be detected by current tests. 

3 VOCs have arrived in India from foreign shores:

  • The UK variant (B.1.1.7)
  • The Brazilian variant (P.1)
  • The South African variant (B.1.351)

All 3 variants have been seen to spread much faster, resulting in more infections and foreseeably more individuals becoming very sick or dying.

A new “double mutation” variant has been detected in India - has been named B.1.617.

It has 2 mutations which have not been seen together in any previous variant. These mutations may allow it to infect more people and may also allow it to evade our immune system (immune escape), which means antibodies created after vaccination or prior infection may not protect a person from getting infected. 

One of the most often asked issues is whether current RT-PCR testing kits can detect these variants? The answer is YES! RT-PCR is a Gold Standard test and RE-PCR kits that use multiple genetic targets for final results are less likely to miss genetic variants.

We at Suburban Diagnostics use ICMR approved RT-PCR kits which do not miss the mutation as these kits target more than 2 genes. 

References:

https://www.vox.com/22385588/covid-19-vaccine-variant-mutation-n440k-india-moderna-pfizer-b1617

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/a-new-strain-of-coronavirus-what-you-should-know

 

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