The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our entire flow of life for about a year. The disease is still trying to be controlled by mask, distance, hygiene measures and finally vaccination method. However, the mutated COVID-19 virus, which is determined in the UK, Brazil and South Africa and started to spread rapidly all over the world, is increasing the anxiety in the society day by day. In the researches, mutated viruses, which are more contagious and cause the disease to be more severe, are now seen in our country.
Vaccination alone may not be enough to protect against both COVID-19 and mutated COVID-19 virus. Complying with mask and distance rules and making new regulations in your lifestyle play an effective role in combating the virus. Memorial Şişli Hospital Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology Specialist Dr. M. Servet Alan answered the curious questions about the mutating COVID-19 virus.
Viruses constantly mutate
Changes (mutations) in the SARS-CoV-19 genetic material, which is the causative agent of COVID-2 disease, can occur naturally and anywhere. RNA viruses mutate easily and rapidly. Viruses undergo change with constantly developing mutations and form variant viruses over time. Variants are forms that differ slightly from their counterparts. If this change does not help the virus to reproduce and continue, the virus will disappear. Some variant viruses are permanent. Various variant COVID-19 viruses have been detected in the world in the COVID-19 outbreak. Newer COVID-19 variants can cause easier transmission of viruses and more serious illness.
Virus emerging in England has spread all over the world
COVID-19 is a coronavirus. Changes in the genetic makeup of the coronavirus are constantly monitored. Studies provide insight into how the modified virus will spread and what kind of effects it will cause on infected people. It is possible to list the COVID-19 variants that have started to be seen in three countries as follows:
The B.2020 variant detected in the UK in autumn 1.1.7 contains a large number of mutations. This variant has been found to spread more easily and faster than other variants. It is thought that the variant may cause a higher risk of death than others. It has been determined that the UK variant has spread rapidly all over the world, including our country.
In South Africa, variant B.1.351 was first identified in October 2020. There are some mutations similar to B.1.1.7.
The P.1 variant detected in Brazil was first detected in four people in January 2021 during a routine screening of travelers from Brazil to Japan. This variant has a number of mutations that may prevent it from being recognized by antibodies.
Vaccine, mask, social distance and hygiene are very important in virus protection
The new variant of COVID-19, which has mutated by changing its structure to ensure its continuity, spreads more easily and faster than other variants, increasing the risk of the disease being more severe and fatal. Patients will also need more hospitalization and intensive care treatment. Vaccines in use continue to be effective against the variants identified so far. However, vaccination alone may not eliminate the contagiousness of the disease. It is thought that the vaccinated people will survive the disease even if they get sick.
The lethargy of vaccination can cause the virus to spread and multiply to more people, the development of new mutations and the disease to be permanent. To prevent the spread of the disease, it is very important to follow some of the rules below;
- Do not neglect to be vaccinated
- If necessary, wear a double mask in crowded and closed environments
- Do not stay in public places for a long time, keep a distance of two meters in case of necessity
- Pay more attention to cleanliness than ever
- Carefully follow the isolation and quarantine rules
- If you have a chronic illness, try to do your job from home.
- Stay home, except in mandatory situations, until the epidemic is under control
If these rules are not followed, the new COVID-19 virus, which has started to mutate and spread faster, may continue to affect the whole world for a long time permanently.