– Mutations by themselves are not “bad”, they could be inconsequential in terms of vaccines or spread – two loaded factors. The scary part is not knowing everything. But, it does share some mutations with other past variants and this gives scientists some insight.
What is driving concern is that the new strain is so very different from the original SARS-CoV-2 that emerged in Wuhan and this means that vaccines that were developed could potentially fall short.
– There have been many examples of variants that have seemed scary on paper, but had no bad real world impact – case in point: the Beta variant that emerged in South Africa last year and grabbed attention due to its infectivity.
It was however, the Delta variant that spread further and to grim results, having left Alpha, Beta and Mu variants far behind. Of 845,000 sequences uploaded to the GISAID global science initiative with specimens collected in the last 60 days, 99.8 percent were Delta, according to the WHO's weekly epidemiological report.
– Also, till date only four SARS-CoV-2 strains that have been labelled “variant of concern” by WHO and ongoing studies and monitoring will give a better picture. This means that not all mutations would be malignant.
– WHO also pointed out that vaccines have reduced transmission of the dominant Delta variant by about 40 percent. By common logic, continuing to vaccinate and maintaining Covid appropriate behaviours such as wearing a facemask, maintaining distance, avoiding crowds and meeting others outside or only in a well-ventilated indoor space, should serve us well.
– As Doctor Faheem Younus (MD) who is VP, CQO and Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland UCH, tweeted on November 26: "Afraid of the Nu Variant From South Africa? Know that we don’t know if it’s more lethal, more transmissible or evades immunity. Wait for more facts. Lots of premature conclusions about it & I know fear sells. But public health is a service not a business. Keep calm and carry on" (sic)
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