Covid pandemic three years later: what is the situation worldwide and the most spread variants today

COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a virus that undergoes continual mutation. Many notable variations have emerged since the epidemic began. Viruses are constantly evolving, so it's important to keep track of any new variations that emerge.
covid vaccine

COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a virus that undergoes continual mutation. Many notable variations have emerged since the epidemic began. Viruses are constantly evolving, so it’s important to keep track of any new variations that emerge. That way, every country in the world will be ready.

This is especially the case if the new variety is more virulent than the original virus strain, has a wider host range, is resistant to vaccines, and can cause more severe disease. Starting with the Alpha variation in 2020, the World Health Organization has been utilising the Greek alphabet to name newly discovered coronavirus strains. Here’s a list and some details about certain covid situations around the world that are different today.

The 4 most spread variants of Covid today

Here’s a list and some details about certain covid situations around the world that are different today.

1. Omicron and its sub-variants 

Throughout the past year, Omicron and its variations have been the most common SARS-CoV-2 strains in the United States. In late November 2021, the first instances of the Omicron strain (BA.1) were discovered in South Africa and Botswana, and soon after, cases emerged and spread throughout the rest of the world. In the United States, Omicron caused an exponential increase in cases to more than a million per day by December.

It mutated into numerous strains in 2022, some of which were called BQ1, BQ 1. 1, and BA.5. In the United States, a novel Omicron subvariant known as XBB.1.5 was the leading cause of infection by January 2023. Some recently identified Omicron strains, including XBB, BF.7, BF .11, BN.1, and others, were responsible for less than 6% of infections by mid-December.

How severe is it?

According to the CDC’s analysis of available data, the initial Omicron strain appeared to be milder than its predecessors. Nonetheless, it has been pointed out that spikes in cases could result in major spikes in hospitalizations and fatalities, just as they did at the start of the variant’s dissemination in 2022.

Researchers have yet to determine if modern Omicron strains result in more severe illnesses than their forebears.

How likely can it spread?

The Omicron subvariant is thought to be particularly effective at spreading the disease. Omicron’s initial strain was more contagious than Delta’s. The scientific community has a lot to learn about XBB. Researchers have shown that strain 1.5 is the most contagious form of the virus.

Can it be prevented by vaccination?

The Food and Drug Administration has approved bivalent booster shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for all people aged 6 months and up. These boosters are intended to provide immunity against the SARS-CoV-2 type 1 strain, as well as against the Omicron subvariants BA.5 and BA.4.

2. Delta 

Although the Delta (B.1.617.2) coronavirus wasn’t discovered until late 2020, it quickly became the most widespread strain of Indian virus worldwide until the Omicron strain took over in the middle of December.

How severe is it?

For those who were not immunised, Delta was the most dangerous strain. The CDC referred to early research from Scotland and Canada that found hospitalisation due to Delta was more common among unvaccinated people.

How likely can it spread?

Researchers believe that Delta was responsible for more than twice as many illnesses as prior strains. Its rate of transmission exceeds that of the Alpha strain by a factor of 80-90%.

Can it be prevented by vaccination?

In the United States, all three vaccines against Delta were found to be quite efficient in preventing hospitalisation and mortality. Yet, even the Delta vaccine had its limitations, as it led to relapses in previously immune individuals.

In response to Delta, the CDC issued a statement advocating “layered preventative techniques” for use by both vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. This meant that, in addition to getting regular vaccinations, residents in areas with high rates of transmission were urged to take additional precautions, such as washing their hands often, wearing face masks, and keeping their distance from one another.

3. Beta 

B.1.351 is the name given to this variety, which was first discovered at the end of the 2020s in South Africa and then spread to other regions. Several mutations and the ability to elude antibodies had worried experts. There was a dearth of beta users in the States.

How severe is it?

Beta was associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation and mortality compared to other variations.

How likely can it spread?

The CDC said Beta was about 50% more contagious than the original coronavirus strain.

Can it be prevented by vaccination?

Against the Beta variety, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford, Johnson & Johnson,  and Moderna did not offer significant protection.

4. Alpha

The most widely known of these versions is Alpha (B.1.1.7). Infection rates skyrocketed in December of 2020, shortly after it made its first appearance in Great Britain in November of that year. It rapidly gained popularity and quickly replaced the previous version as the most common one in the United States. The more robust Delta type eventually took over, and Alpha died out.

How severe is it?

The B.1.1.7 sublineage is more lethal than the parent strain and has a higher hospitalisation rate among infected individuals.

How likely can it spread?

Mutations in the spike protein of Alpha were speculated to increase the virus’s infectiousness. It was hypothesised that the B.1.1.7 subclade was 30–50% more infectious than the standard SARS-CoV-2.

Can it be prevented by vaccination?

Three major pharmaceutical companies have reported that their Alpha vaccines are successful in preventing hospitalisation and severe illness. These companies are Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna.

Covid pandemic, are we close to an end?

The World Health Organization and its global networks of experts are keeping an eye on the virus to detect any major amino acid substitutions, at which point the public and affected nations can be alerted to the need for new measures to combat the new strain.

The global plan to minimise the emergence of mutations with negative public health implications relies heavily on the reduction of transmission through tried and true disease control methods/measures and the avoidance of introductions into animal populations.

Read also: The gap between rich and poor has widened because of the Covid pandemic

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