Coronavirus: Is the scarier and more infectious  variant a real possibility?

Coronavirus: Is the scarier and more infectious  variant a real possibility?


Coronavirus: Is the scarier and more infectious  variant a real possibility?

COVID-19 continues to be a scary threat we aren’t yet free from. While we now do have access to a number of experimental, novel coronavirus vaccines which get us closer to normal life and are now clinically proven to be effective and protective against severe outcomes associated with the diseases, we still face dangers from mutant variants of the virus. The Delta variant of COVID-19 is recognized to be an highly infectious and transmissible strain, considered to be currently dominating surges in parts of the world and as experts say, we may continue to see more such potentially hazardous mutants come up in the future. One such speculation which has been making rounds recently is the theory of ‘COVID-22’, a variant pegged to be much scarier and infectious than the Delta variant.

Warned to be an inevitable threat we must be prepared for, COVID-22 has been trending on social media. But is there any truth to it?

Could it actually be deadlier?

COVID-22 became a talking point on social media after a Swedish immunologist sighted warnings of a future ‘inevitable’ COVID variant knocking on our doors.

The report, which soon enough was published in a German newspaper highlighted warnings led by an ETH Zürich-based immunologist and Professor, Dr Sai Reddy who warned that given the pace with which the vaccine’s mutations were proving to be heavy for the world, it would actually be inevitable for the virus not to mutate more, and we could be facing threats from a variant, COVID-22, which may have combining features of the three feared variants, the Delta variant, Beta variant and the Gamma variant.

Terming it to be a big risk factor, Dr Redddy’s comments, while sparked off a lot of controversy on social media and left people puzzled, mentioned the variant to be potentially much more severe in nature than COVID-19 and the variants in action right now:

“COVID-22 could get worse than what we are witnessing now. If such a variant appears, we have to recognize it as early as possible and the vaccine manufacturers have to adapt the vaccine quickly. The emergence of this new variant is a big risk. We have to prepare for it.”

While some believe COVID-22 to be a fictionalized variant, Dr Reddy claims that the new variant to come up could actually be more fatal and threatening than the Delta and the Delta Plus variant. For the unversed, not only do the Delta and Delta Plus variants have proven properties enabling them to surpass vaccine-driven antibodies, they can also spread easier, cause severe symptoms and lead to multiple complications (especially for those who are unvaccinated). They also spread easy, and are supremely contagious.

Again, while the advent of the COVID-22 variant has divided people and to date, there is no actual proof of the variant becoming a cause of concern, scientists do believe that such variants and future prophecies only tell us that our fight against coronavirus may actually never end, and how vaccines will need to be upgraded to fight better and be more protective against variants of interest such as these.

As for the variant hailed to be more destructive than ever, we do not have any credible evidence or scientific basing to prove the same. While some mutations are known to surpass antibody defence and cause massive symptoms, experts have said that it could be ‘too early’ to pinpoint a variant like this to be so severe, and if at all, we must continue to keep our guards up and not be complacent in our behaviour.

COVID-22 may not be a real variant in front of us right now, but only a possibility, if the current pace of the pandemic isn’t controlled. Some also suggest that in the lack of credible scientific proof, such reports and possibilities of variants to come up in 2022, when we aren’t done fighting the problems of variants in 2021 will only drive more fears and anxiety amongst people, at a time when it looks like a clear possibility that we may have to learn to live with the virus.

At the same time, there are also those who have suggested that COVID-22 isn’t the real assigned name or deemed as a threat by WHO or concerning medical bodies, so, rumours shouldn’t be believed in, until and unless they become a real threat.

The hopes of achieving complete herd immunity, which will evade the mark of the COVID-causing virus from the world remains a far-fetched possibility, which may not even hold true. At this point, what experts say is ideal is for the pandemic to turn into endemics and become smaller outbreaks as more and more people get immunized and eventually, people learning to adapt to the virus.qq

There’s also some possibility which has emerged right now that as we move further, if the gaps with vaccination and immunization continue, we may see more variants come up. Even if COVID-22 may not be a completely true forewarning, there will always remain possibilities of mutations coming up, since viruses are known by nature to evolve with time. However, how severe, or how mild the newer mutations could be, remains unknown..

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that COVID-19 vaccines aren’t a glimmer of hope. While they may not be a complete cure in itself, they have been clinically established to tame down severe consequences, hospitalizations and overall, lower the chances of disease contraction.

With more booster shots and better upgraded versions of the vaccines being made available, it could also happen that we secure more protection against COVID-19, than what we have currently. Besides, vaccines have actually been proven to minimize the risks one would otherwise get with COVID-19, being unvaccinated. Therefore, for all that we know, vaccines are not just working well, they would very well be needed to keep variants at bay, and minimize the scathing damage unleashed by the virus.