The answer to the question of whether new variants of Coronavirus keep emerging is
Yes, the virus will develop new variants as long as the virus that caused the pandemic keeps infecting people.
But there is no need for panic just as yet as this doesn’t mean new variants will be emerging as regularly, or that they will be that potent.
Will Coronavirus Variants Emerge Year On Year?
With more than half the world still remaining to be vaccinated, the virus will keep infecting people mutating inside them for months or years to come. These mutations cause new variants to emerge.
But this does not in any way suggest that the virus will keep evolving
According to Robert Bollinger, professor of Infectious diseases; Mutations in viruses include the one that causes COVID-19 is neither new nor unexpected. All RNA viruses mutate with time some more than the other. For instance, the Flu vaccine has to be changed every year as flu viruses changes with time.
Since the Coronavirus started, the SARS-CoV2 virus mutated, causing different strains to emerge. One of these strains is Delta Variant. Delta variant has been called the “variant of concern” by WHO.
According to CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the delta variant is twice as contagious when compared to earlier versions of the virus and could still mutate further and be more infectious.
Even though it is probable that the virus becomes deadlier, but there is not an evolutionary reason for that to happen. Also, severely sick people are also less likely to socialize for the virus to spread.
All three FDA-approved vaccination are capable of fighting the COVID-19 and can fight delta variant. People who took Moderna and Pfizer should take both doses. People should know that vaccines can protect one from severe forms of COVID-19, but breakthrough infections are still possible and we have to remain cautious even after the vaccination.
Different variants of Coronavirus have emerged in Brazil, England, California, and other areas. The more infectious variant by the name of Beta (which appeared in South Africa first) has the ability to reinfect people who have recovered from early infection.
WHO has categorized different variants into different categories like the variant of interest, variant of concern, and variant of high consequence.
A variant of interest is the coronavirus variant which has genetic properties when compared to other variants which predict greater transmission and immune response evasion.
A variant of Concern is the variant that can cause breakthrough infections in those already vaccinated or had been infected earlier.
A variant of High consequence is the variant for which there is no protection still as the current vaccines cannot protect against it.
According to the study, the immune response developed by the vaccines may not be sufficient to fight these infections and people should keep following the guidelines of the CDC(Center for Disease Control and Prevention) for protection.
When a virus infects a new species of animal, it adapts to the host and spreads more readily and widely according to Andrew Read, the virus expert at the Pennsylvania State University.
As per Dr. Joshua Schiffer, a virus expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Experts are studying whether the virus could become better at evading the immune response people have developed from vaccination and infection. As more people get vaccinated, the virus will have to spread through people who have developed some form of immune response. There is a possibility however of the virus mutating making the immune response less effective.
If this happens then scientists might have to recommend the vaccines to be changed periodically as we do for the FLU vaccines.
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