Nearly halfway into 2022, most of us have resumed our old lives. Schools and offices have begun welcoming back employees, and malls and theatres eagerly await the rush of customers. However, in the chaos of global events like the Russia-Ukraine war, we have forgotten something - COVID-19 still exists! Despite the lift of pandemic restrictions, this break hasn’t been more than a brief respite from the intensity of COVID-19. Recent news has highlighted that metros like Delhi and Mumbai have begun reporting an increase in daily COVID-19 cases. With the lift on face masks and maintaining social distancing rules, people have forgotten the consequences of neglecting these guidelines. The lack of awareness, or knowledge, on the topic might have contributed to this rise in COVID-19 cases in India. We must spread the word on the dangers of ignoring precautionary regulations and symptoms of diseases.
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In December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic began as a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China. It has grown exponentially since then, claiming the lives of over 62.5 lakhs people. Like a virus, it spreads through bodily fluids and nasal discharges of infected people - saliva and cough particles. Within one year of the pandemic, we discovered numerous variants of COVID-19 that fortified the virus’s contagious trait. Over time, the viruses causing COVID-19 evolve through mutation and birth new variants that tend to emerge, disappear or persist further. Nonetheless, the creation of new variants won’t cease. To monitor the growing rate of these variants, healthcare organisations around the globe are tracking this behaviour. Scientists have classified these variants into four types: Variants being monitored, variants of interest, variants of concern and variants of high consequences. While some variants spread slower than others, the latter could lead to increased cases of COVID-19. Regardless of their severity, a higher number of cases would increase hospitalisations and lead to limited healthcare facilities.
Before you start avoiding the strains of coronavirus, familiarise yourself with its many variants. While you might have heard these names on the news, they each have had their impact globally.
1. Alpha Variant (B.1.1.7): First detected in Southern England, its patients are highly likely to need Coronary Care Unit (CCU) admission with chances of only 28-days of mortality
2. Beta Variant (B.1.351): It could re-infect recovering patients of earlier strains of the virus and potentially resist the effects of some vaccines
3. Gamma Variant (P.1): This variant can manoeuvre around immune responses of the body, becoming more contagious as it mutates
4. Delta Variant (B.1.617.2): Found in India (December 2020), it’s only able to infect those who aren’t, or only half, vaccinated
5. Kappa Variant (B.1.617.1): First found in India (October 2020), it is a double mutant virus and less dangerous than the Delta variant
6. Lambda Variant (C.37): It’s more contagious than the Alpha and Gamma variants, causing over 596 deaths for every 1 lakh people in Peru
7. Mu Variant (B.1.621): Classified as a variant of interest, it could resist immunity developed from previous infections or vaccinations
8. Omicron Variant (B.1.1.529): A variant of concern, it’s one of the most dangerous strains of COVID-19 and triggered the third wave in India