The current situation is stating that the world has got a new strain of the coronavirus. This is one of the COVID variants that spread fast. Currently, the spreading rate of this virus is approximately twice more than the original Wuhan strain.
In Kent, UK, scientists have identified an Alpha variant of this virus. This virus has a high capability to transmit quickly. In India, scientists have recently identified the Delta variant and have more transmission power than the Alpha variant.
It is the evolution of the virus that is in action currently.
So we need to know whether we get destined by this never-ending mutation process of coronavirus or not because it becomes much harder to contain gradually. Not only that, but we also need to know if there is any limitation of the worst condition of the coronavirus outbreak.
Evolution of viruses
We have to remember the journey of coronavirus that has come from bats to humans. This virus has jumped to completely a different species from a bat.
It is like getting a new job for a person. Despite getting that job by showing skill, that person may not be capable enough to manage that job role for the first time. The first variant of coronavirus is skilled enough to start pandemics, but still, it is in a learning phase.
According to Professor Wendy Barclay, a renowned virologist, the virus has jumped from bat to human. This is very rare. However, this virus has settled well after jumping and has become perfect.
She added that there are several past examples of this type of case. From the Ebola pandemic to Flu pandemic, all of these have shown a similar character. First, it makes a jump and then starts to accelerate.
However, the question is to what extent this virus could go.
How worse can COVID variants become?
To compare the spreading power, we must look at one metric; the R0 of the virus. It is pronounced as R-naught. This is a measurement of how many people who are not immune and have not taken any precautions (average) can be infected by one infected person.
Imperial’s disease modelers had stated that when coronavirus started expanding at Wuhan, this measurement was only 2.5, which has increased up to 8.0 for the Delta variant currently.
Dr. Aris Katzourakis, who has studied the evolution of the virus in Oxford, has stated that coronavirus has amazed a lot. It has shown its transmission capability that is beyond our fear.
According to him, the Alpha and Delta, two lineages have reached the transmissible stage that is more than 50% each. This has happened within 18 months only.
Aris Katzourakis has said that it will be a very foolish activity to analyze its jumping activity. Its transmission power clearly shows that this virus can jump higher in the next two years than in recent times. Measles is another variant that can cause very explosive outbreaks, which have a high R0.
Professor Barclay does not know exactly how much worse the Measles variant will be. However, he stated it has space to shift at a higher level. It can affect 14 to 30 people at once.
So it is important to know how the variants are doing this kind of activity.
How the virus spreads?
There are several tricks that viruses could apply to get better spreading capabilities. For instance,
- These improve themselves to enter the cells of our body
- These are increasing their ability to survive in the air
- They increase viral loads; this is why patients release more viruses while coughing or breathing
- It can change its course of infection when it transmits person to person
Now the Alpha variant can transmit very fast through our body cells than the previous times. It has become possible by avoiding the intruder alarm. This is called interferon response. However, when its variant reaches the Omega, named a Greek alphabet, it will not be an unstoppable beast.
According to Dr. Katzourakis, this virus has limitations of its worst condition, and it is not considered a super virus.
Covid variants have new names
An evolutionary balance creation concept is also there to overcome this worse condition. The vaccination process is fast in recent times, and that has the ability to create history.
This fast-vaccination process can challenge this virus and help people overcome hurdles. This whole balance creation process can squeeze the transmission rate to another path.
According to Dr. Katzourakis, the virus may compromise its transmission capability in the future, and for this, we can avoid vaccines at all.
Dr. Katzourakis stated that the Beta variant has an E484K mutation that can dodge the immune system. However, it is not possible for this variant till now. The mutation of the Delta variant can dodge the immune system partially, which is why it spreads quickly.
Different variants are using different tricks to create an infection. Predicting the best strategy to control coronavirus is hard in recent times. Though the Measles variant has a much higher R0, it still creates lifelong immunity for patients. Influenza has very low R0 (slightly more than 1), but it constantly mutates to bring side-step immunity.
What to expect?
Professor Barclay has said it is a very unpredictable condition to tell what will happen in the next year. Currently, it is in an intermediate and interesting phase.
The scientific explanation has claimed that mild viruses spread more quickly. However, in this case, COVID variants are getting very little evolutionary pressure actually to happen. Viruses can spread to other people without killing the originally infected person. Moreover, younger people called the super spreader are not getting an illness from this virus somehow.
Rich countries may stop major issues with the help of well-structured vaccination campaigns that the next variants will create. These vaccination campaigns will create widespread immunity in those countries. However, for the rest of the world, it is very difficult to control Covid due to lots of transmissible variants of this virus.