Coronavirus Mutations: How COVID Symptoms Vary In Different Strains? Here's Everything You Need To Know


01/9How COVID symptoms vary in different strains?

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, people have been battling the ever-expanding list of symptoms, long term complications and the effects of different COVID mutations in and around the world. The recent surge in coronavirus cases is evident from the risks posed by the new evolving mutations, traced in various parts of India. Not only are the severity of the symptoms alarming, but the increase in transmissibility of the infection is all the more concerning.

02/9Different types of variants identified so far

Multiple variants of the SARs-COV-2 virus have been circulating in and around the world. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three classifications of COVID-19 variants are being monitored, namely Variant of Interest (VOI), Variant of Concern (VOC), and Variant of High Consequence (VOHC).

B.1.1.7, also known as the UK variant, was found in the south-east of England and is currently identified as a Variant of Concern (VOC). Experts suggest that this variant was 40-70% more infectious than other variants and raises death risks to 60%.

The Brazil variant, scientifically known as P.1, is believed to be more contagious and dangerous than the previous mutation. E484K, an escape mutation allows the variant to evade the antibodies.

B.1.351, the South African variant was found in at least 20 countries, including the United Kingdom. Akin to the Brazil variant, E484K mutation allows this variant to dodge antibodies. Additionally, N501 mutation makes it more contagious.

The Indian origin double mutant virus variant, scientifically termed as B.1.617, was first identified around March end in the state of Maharashtra and continues to drive India's second wave of coronavirus. It contains E484Q and L452R mutations, which makes it more infectious and enables it to escape antibodies.

Additionally, recent reports suggest that a 'Triple mutation' COVID variant has been identified in parts of West Bengal, Delhi and Maharashtra.

03/9Original strain vs. New COVID variants: What is the difference?

Viruses are programmed to change and evolve through mutations and newer strains. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "When a virus replicates or makes copies of itself, it sometimes changes a little bit, which is normal for a virus. These changes are called “mutations”. A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a “variant” of the original virus."

COVID-19 virus is a type of coronavirus, a large family of viruses. The mutations that have taken place from the old or the original strain are called COVID mutations or 'variants' of the original virus. Unlike the original strain, the mutations may differ in their ability to infect a person and may possess a different genome sequencing, that may allow it to dodge antibodies and infect even the healthy and young individuals.

04/9'Double mutation' crisis in India

The double mutation COVID variant is a combination of two mutations, E484Q and L452R, which makes it more infectious and enables it to escape antibodies. The current rise in the number of COVID cases in India is attributed to this double mutation, which is not only affecting the most vulnerable, but taking a toll on younger people as well.

05/9Is there a triple COVID mutation? What is it?

Apart from the challenges posed by the double mutation, a triple mutation COVID variant has been traced in parts of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Delhi.

The new variant which is now scientifically termed as B.1.618, is a combination of three different COVID strains, more deadlier that the previous mutations. It is identified by a distinct set of genetic variants including E484K, which is being called a major immune escape variant, likely to have the ability to evade antibodies produced by people who have already recovered from COVID-19 infections.

06/9Can the new variants cause more severe symptoms?

Given the recent rise in the number of COVID cases and the prevalence of complications in not just the most vulnerable, but also in younger individuals, is an indication that the newer COVID variants pose greater risks to people's health and are associated with an increased risk of death compared to the original strain.

Besides the most common symptoms of COVID-19 like fever, cough, fatigue and loss of sense of smell and taste, many are struggling with severe respiratory complications such as shortness of breath, chest pain and difficulty in breathing, which are all signs of oxygen deprivation. The rise in the demand for oxygen cylinders in and around the country signals the devastating state of COVID patients in India.

07/9The impact on the younger population

Considering that the new COVID mutations have the ability to escape antibodies and are more infectious than the original strain, apart from the most vulnerable groups of people, there has been an increase in COVID hospitalisation amongst younger individuals too.

While vaccination drives are yet to open for the younger age groups, experts believe that the best way to tackle the current crisis is by taking precautionary measures.

08/9What are the most common symptoms to watch out for?

With the onset of the novel coronavirus, people have been experiencing different and varied ranges of symptoms. Although the list has continued to increase and expand, the most common symptoms remain to be the same. At such times of chaos and conflict, it is important to note the most classic symptoms of COVID-19, so as to detect the virus at an early stage. Here are some of the most common COVID symptoms.

- Fever

- Dry cough

- Sore throat

- Runny and stuffy nose

- Chest pain and shortness of breath

- Fatigue

- Gastrointestinal infection

- Loss of sense of smell and taste

09/9How transmissible are they?

While SARs-COV-2 is a highly infectious disease, the different mutations have made it more transmissible. The rise in the number of cases and complications has made it all the more evident that the new variants driving the second wave of coronavirus in India enables a faster spread of the virus from one person to another.

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