COVID-19: Multiple variants dominate the world. What will happen next?

News Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Srishti Singh SisodiaUpdated: Oct 18, 2022, 01:53 PM IST
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 infections were currently 11 per cent of the country's caseload across the nation 

The health department of India's southern state Maharashtra has raised an alert over coronavirus (COVID-19) cases that may increase after the detection of new variants like BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 reported from the state. For the first time, the variants have been detected in the country. 

Health officials in the country are also concerned and have cautioned people as cases are expected to rise especially during the winter and the festive season. 

The Maharashtra health department noted that the new XBB variant of coronavirus has a growth advantage over BA.2.75 and has immune evasive properties. 

The bulletin said: "Some experts are predicting a rise in the coming winter season, especially in the festive environment. In WGS (whole genome sequencing), the proportion of BA.2.75 has decreased to 76 per cent from 95 per cent." 

The variants are fueling cases globally. In some countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States, some are emerging as a strain responsible for maximum cases, especially BQ.1. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 infections were currently 11 per cent of the country's caseload across the nation in the week ending October 15. Less than a month ago, the pair were in just 1 per cent of cases. The steep rise is concerning the experts.  

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Covid and its variants 

When it comes to coronavirus variants, people have probably given up on keeping track of all the variants that are emerging now and then — mostly the offspring of the Omicron variant. Notably, the variants are different in different parts of the world right now. 

News outlet Fortune reported that the way Omicron variants are quickly growing globally is "unprecedented". The other feature concerning traits as some have improved immune evasion, increased transmissibility, or in some cases both. 

As per the experts, the coronavirus could end up something like mild flu, or it might become bigger than what it is right now. 

Dr Eric Topol, who is a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research and founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, told Fortune: "There have been times when different variants were on the move in different parts of the world, like the Gamma variant in South America, and Beta in South Africa." 

"But this is different because now we have variants with extreme levels of immune evasion, and in any given country, potentially a few that could be in play at the same time," Dr Topol added. 


Will it end up like flu? 

It is vital that appropriate analysis is done timely to learn about the spread of variants as the fragmented cluster of Covid variants has been scattered around the globe. 

Dr Ali Mokdad, a professor at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told Fortune: "Many people globally are becoming susceptible all over again due to waning immunity from the vaccine and infections. People who have gotten Omicron BA.5 are susceptible five, six months later. Therefore anything circulating out there, they’re going to catch it." 

According to Mokdad, the Covid virus will eventually become like the flu, which spear most during the winter season. In some years, the impact of the virus is worse than in others. He said that such a phenomenon with Covid could make it possible to target the virus with a single annual shot. 


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