This article is an essay on Covid-19 variants. All viruses have the ability to change over time. The SARS-CoV-2 is no exception to this. This is the main virus that causes Covid-19. These changes have no, little or severe impact on virus properties. These changes have an impact on their properties such as the spread and severity of the disease, their diagnostic tools, and their cure in terms of the performance of the vaccines.
The authorities around the world have taken reasonable steps to prevent and control the spread of the Covid-19 since January 2020. However, like other viruses, Covid-19, also changed its properties which were evident during the late 2020s. The discovery of the new variant posed a serious risk on public health globally as research was already underway to develop a vaccine.
In order to tackle new variants efficiently, experts around the world characterized new variants as “Variant of concern” and “Variants of Interest”. According to WHO, a variant is classified as VOC if it meets the following criteria:
- Its transmission is increased
- There is a change in its clinical disease presentation
- Public and social measures taken by the government, diagnostic and vaccines, become ineffective to control the spread of the virus.
The variant of Concerns:
Until now, there are four variants of concerns:
- B.1.1.7 Variant: This variant was first detected in the UK in sep 2020 in Kent. This variant is referred to as Alpha variant.
- B.1.351 Variant: It was first detected in South Africa in May 2020. It is referred as Beta variant.
- P.1 Variant: Country of origin for this variant is Brazil and was first detected in Nov-2020 and is referred to as Gamma Variant.
- B.1.617.2 Variant: It was first detected in India in Oct 2020 and is referred to as Delta variant.
As of June 2021, after the announcement of the World Health Organization (WHO) the variants are named after Greek alphabets instead of their place of first discovery. The main aim of the WHO in taking this step is to reflect the order of detection.
Variants of Interest:
A Covid-19 variant is classified as VOI if it meets the following criteria:
- The genetic changes that are predicted and known such as its transmission, diagnostic and therapy.
- It is identified to cause risk to a signifiant community in multiple countries.
There are four VOI which are:
- B.1.1525 Variant: It was first detected in Dec 2020 in multiple countries and is referred as Eta variant.
- B.1.526 Variant: In Nov2020, this variant was first detected in United States of America and is referred to as Iota.
- B.1.617.1 Variant: First detected in India in Oct 2020 and is referred to Kappa.
- C.37 Variant: In Dec 2020, this variant was first detected in Peru and is referred to as Lamba variant.
However, WHO and experts regularly assess and analyze variants to reclassify them into either VOC or VOI depending upon their nature. Therefore, the main aim of this essay on Covid-19 variants was to highlight the different types of Covid-19 variants around the world.