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SARS-CoV-2 Virus, Variants and Vaccination

Illustration of Coronavirus | Property of WebMD

As of August 3rd, 2021, there have been more than 199 million coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) cases worldwide with more than 4.2 million fatalities. The Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 has become extremely contagious.

Total Cases of 199,253,018

History

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS), CoV or SARS-CoV-1, first emerged in China in 2002 and lasted for almost two years, reportedly killing 774 people. Then, the virus mutated and made its way back into humans as a viral respiratory infection called the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), also known as The Camel Flu. Large outbreaks occurred in South Korea in 2015 and Saudi Arabia in 2018.

Why You Should Wear A Mask?

Many folks around the globe have been wearing masks to protect themselves. But for others, it has become a debate with some protesting against it and not wearing it at all.

Infected people have the virus in their mouths, noses, and throats. Droplets come out when we’re talking, laughing, coughing, and sneezing; and those droplets can enter through another person’s mouth, nose, or eyes.

Why 6 feet or more?

Droplets can travel 6 feet when we talk, laugh, sneeze, cough, shout, and sing. It can land in another person’s mouth, nose, or eyes and open surfaces.

Masks and 6 feet distance between humans can reduce the transmission.

Glossary(s)

Variant of Interest (VOI): According to the CDC, variant of interest (VOI) is a variant with specific genetic markers that have been associated with changes to receptor binding, reduced neutralization by antibodies generated against previous infection or vaccination, reduced efficacy of treatments, potential diagnostic impact, or predicted increase in transmissibility or disease severity.

Variant of concern (VOC): According to the CDC, variant of concern (VOC) is a variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.

Variant of High Consequence (VHC): According to the CDC, a variant of high consequence has clear evidence that preventative measures or medical countermeasures (MCMs) have significantly reduced effectiveness relative to previously circulating variants.

**As of July 2021, there are no SARS-CoV-2 variants that rise to the level of high consequence.

Variant (s)

Greek Alphabet | Esty.com

Alpha
Origin: The United Kingdom
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): YES
Designated Date: December 18, 2020

It was first discovered in the United Kingdom and later found in the United States in December of 2020. The alpha is considered a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Beta
Origin: South Africa
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): YES
Designated Date: December 18, 2020

It was first discovered in South Africa and later found in the United States in January of 2021. The beta is considered a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Gamma
Origin: Brazil
Designated Variant of Concern(WHO): YES
Designated Date: January 11, 2021

It was first discovered in Brazil and later found in the United States in January of 2021. The gamma is considered a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Delta
Origin: India
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): YES
Designated Date: May 11, 2021

It was first discovered in India and later found in the United States in March of 2021. The delta is considered a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Epsilon
Origin: Southern California, USA
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): NO
Designated Date: N/A

It was first discovered in Southern California. Although not considered a variant of concern, the CDC has predicted that it will become a variant of concern because it contains multiple mutations, and considers Epsilon a variant of interest.

Zeta
Origin: Brazil
Designated Variant of Concern(WHO): NO
Designated Date: N/A

Originating in Brazil, the WHO considered it a variant of interest. As of July 2021, Zeta is no longer considered a variant of interest by WHO.

Eta
Origin: The United Kingdom
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): NO
Designated Date: N/A

First cases emerged in the United Kingdom. The WHO and CDC define Eta as a variant of interest and noted it has been documented in multiple countries.

Theta
Origin: Philippines
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): NO
Designated Date: N/A

Originating in the Philippines, the WHO considered it a variant of interest. As of July 2021, Theta is no longer considered a variant of interest by WHO.

Lota
Origin: New York, USA
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): NO
Designated Date: N/A

It first emerged in New York and is considered a variant of interest by the WHO and the CDC.

Kappa
Origin: India
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): NO
Designated Date: N/A

WHO and CDC consider it a variant of interest and it first emerged in India.

Lambda
Origin: Peru
Designated Variant of Concern (WHO): NO
Designated Date: N/A

Initially spreading in Peru in December 2020, the lambda variant has so far been found in states, including Texas and South Carolina. It is considered a variant of interest by the World Health Organization.

Why Should You Get the Vaccine?

As of August 5th, 2021, only 14% of the world population is fully vaccinated. According to the research by many experts, the delta variant is around two times as contagious as the original SARS-CoV-2 virus because people tend to carry more particles of the virus in their nose and throat, making it easier to transmit to others.

According to a lab study reported by Forbes, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 93.7% effective against the original Covid-19 after two shots versus 88% effective against the Delta variant. It also states that if everyone in the United States gets vaccinated, the country will experience 88% fewer Delta cases compared to the likely outcome if no one got vaccinated.

More information is needed to draw conclusions on how protective the Moderna vaccine is. But some studies suggest that the first dose of the Moderna vaccine is alone 72% effective. On the other hand, some studies suggest that Johnson & Johnson is the least effective against the Delta variant. However, more information and data are needed to draw a strong conclusion.

The best option for now for all of us is to get vaccinated. American citizens are extremely privileged to have easy access to vaccines. They should utilize it because many other countries are struggling to get vaccines.

We have to prepare for the worst because the next variants can be deadlier. When the Omega variant will arrive it will be catastrophic.

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Yusuf Ali

Yusuf Ali

Writer | Programmer | Data Analyst