THE MUTANTS

A new double mutant coronavirus variant has been found  in several Indian states, instilling a sense of fear that India’s “second wave” could be more potent  than the first.

In addition, authorities have reported several other variants in at least 18 states amid a spike in coronavirus infections across the country.

How do variants occur?

The virus genome is packed inside an envelope that contains proteins, including the Spike protein.

Mutations are changes in the genetic code of a virus that naturally occur over time when an animal or person is infected. While a certain amount of genetic variation is expected to occur as SARS-CoV-2 spreads, it’s important to monitor circulating viruses for key mutation(s) that happen in important regions of the genome. Many mutations do not affect the virus’s ability to spread or cause disease because they do not alter the major proteins involved in infection; eventually these are outcompeted by variants with mutations that are more beneficial for the virus.

This  variant is of concern for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.

Some key Points :

  • Evidence of impact on diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines
  • Widespread interference with diagnostic test targets
  • Evidence of substantially increased resistance to one or more class of therapies
  • Evidence of significant decreased neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination
  • Evidence of reduced vaccine-induced protection from severe disease
  • Evidence of increased transmissibility
  • Evidence of increased disease severity

How to protect yourself against Coronavirus variants

Wear a mask

  • Everyone 2 years and older should wear masks in public.
  • Wear your mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Fit the mask snugly against the sides of your face, slipping the loops over your ears or tying the strings behind your head.
  • If you have to continually adjust your mask, it doesn’t fit properly, and you might need to find a different mask type or brand.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily.

Stay 6 feet away from others

  • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
  • Outside your home: Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
    • Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.

Get Vaccinated

  • Authorized COVID-19 vaccines can help protect you from COVID-19.
  • You should get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.

Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces

  • Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters puts you at higher risk for COVID-19.
  • Avoid indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors as much as possible.
  • If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • It’s especially important to wash:
    • Before eating or preparing food
    • Before touching your face
    • After using the restroom
    • After leaving a public place
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After handling your mask
    • After changing a diaper
    • After caring for someone sick
    • After touching animals or pets
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Monitor your health daily

  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.

Source : Adapted from CDC Website.

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