Covid-19 Variants: Things You Should Know

Covid-19 Variants: Things You Should Know

It’s been almost three years since the Covid-19 outbreak, and it shows no signs of disappearing the same way it came. Instead, it keeps mutating from one variant to the other.

Now, each new Covid-19 variant raises the question: are more people at risk of contracting it? If you’ve been vaccinated against the first strain of Covid-19, would you be protected against new variants?

That, and more, we cover in this article.

How do covid-19 variants come about?

All viruses mutate — change. It’s nothing new. It is like evolution, howbeit a rapid one. When the coronavirus mutates, it results in variants. Flu viruses also change over time, which is why doctors recommend getting a new flu vaccine yearly.

What are variants of concern and variants of interest?

When we talk about covid-19 variants, you might have come across the different categories: variants of interest, variants of concern, and variants of high consequence.

A variant of interest is a covid-19 variant that is likely to have greater transmissibility and more severe disease than previous variants while evading vaccination.

A variant of concern is more highly infectious and can inflict even those who have been vaccinated or previously infected. In addition, the disease is usually more severe and can resist treatment. Delta, omicron, alpha, beta, and gamma variants are all variants of concern.

A variant of high consequences is the highest severity and is completely resistant to all existing vaccines. Not to worry, there’s currently no variant of high consequence.

Will I stay protected from new variants if I am already vaccinated?

Unfortunately, some variants will have unprecedented genetics and behavior that are not addressed by existing vaccines. So even though you’ve been vaccinated, the covid-19 vaccine may be less effective against future variants.

However, it is only considered “less effective,” meaning the vaccine may still offer protection. If you’ve been vaccinated, ensure you keep up with new directives from the CDC to stay abreast of any new safety precautions that may be necessary against a new strain.

Will the usual safety precautions still work against new variants?

Covid-19 is a virus, and the transmission will more or less remain the same, regardless of the strain. So ensure you wash your hands and observe all safety precautions as directed by the CDC. You might also want to get a self-testing kit such as the Covid Rapid Antigen testing, which can test you for omicron, delta, and other variants. As always, early detection is relevant to staying safe from the coronavirus.

Are Omicron and BA.2 more deadly?

The Omicron variant emerged in November 2021, and the WHO listed it as a variant of concern. More highly contagious variants broke out of omicron, including the subvariant BA.2. Omicron is more contagious than the original coronavirus because its rapid mutations enable it to escape immune responses of existing vaccines. It can be spread through talking, coughing, or breathing.

However, omicron and its subvariant BA.2 do not cause more severe illness than the original coronavirus or the delta variant.

Final thoughts

There will be more new coronavirus variants as the virus continues to live and mutate. In fact, new variants of covid-19 are detected every week, but not all are cause for concern. We will always rely on our scientific researchers to rise to the occasion when a new variant of interest or concern comes up.