Coronavirus and Its Multiple Variants

Since the past year Dubai along with the rest of the world has been in the grasp of the horrendous COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, many people have gone through the PCR testing process. As more and more people are getting tested positive, new variants of corona have also surfaced.

The coronavirus is amongst the large family of viruses that can cause even the slightest of illnesses like a common cold, while also contributing to more severe diseases at times such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Like all other viruses, the coronavirus has also changed and mutated into different kinds of variants, also referred to as strains. Two such kinds are Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

According to WHO, MERS-CoV is the one that causes MERS. The patients affected by such a virus show symptoms of severe respiratory illness along with fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some people often show gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea. However, a few cases of MERS are also reported to have been asymptomatic i.e. patients haven’t shown any symptoms at all.

This virus is associated with the Arabian Peninsula, hence the name. The first known cases of MERS were reported in Saudi Arabia in the year 2012. It later spread to other parts of the world through travel, thanks to globalization.

Around 35% of the patients diagnosed with MERS are reported to have died. Upon extensive research, it turns out that MERS originated from within bats that passed it onto dromedary camels. Subsequently, it got transmitted into humans by indirect and/or direct contact with those infected by it. Amongst humans, this virus is not that easily transmissible unless and until a person has been in close contact with a MERS-positive individual.

On the other hand, SARS, as reported by WHO, springs out of SARS-CoV and is a viral respiratory illness. Unlike MERS, SARS is an airborne virus that can be transmitted even through small droplets of saliva. The major cause of it spreading worldwide is international travel. It can be spread indirectly through surfaces that have previously been touched by those infected by it.

SARS is reported to have first originated in China in 2003. However, after the outbreak it got spread to 4 other countries and come 2020 the entire world has been inflicted by it. This particular variant is not that fatal as only 3% of the patients affected by it have been accounted as dead.

Apart from these two strains, there are a number of others that have managed to spread and mutate globally. One such strain is an extension of SARS-CoV, referred to as SARS-CoV-2 which according to WHO is the one that causes COVID-19. This particular strain is reported to have been spreading globally-China being its home ground-and infecting the more vulnerable adult population, often resulting in their deaths.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop here as with more and more transmission, SARS-CoV got further mutated into variants like D614G and replaced the “OG”. Since June 2020, this particular strain became more dominant and continued to spread worldwide with even more infectivity and transmissibility. However, with that being said, D614G does not result in any severe illness.

Another such variant that SARS-CoV-2 branched into during August 2020 rose from Denmark and was named Cluster 5. It is reported to have originated from among infected farmed mink and then transmitting into humans. Conversely, there haven’t been a lot of cases for this particular variant and it has also not spread that widely.

In addition to this, in December 2020, the United Kingdom gave birth to yet another variant of SARS-CoV-2 referred to as VOC 202012/01 (Variant of Concern, year 2020, month 12, variant 01). This virus contains 23 nucleotide substitutions and has increased transmissibility. However, the severity of the disease is almost the same as that of SARS-CoV-2.

Moreover, during the same time, South Africa introduced the world to a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, 501Y.V2 which proved to be more viral as apart from South Africa, it spread across four more countries.

Furthermore, a few more variants that cause COVID-19, as reported by CDC, are B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1. B.1.1.7, identified by the UK in 2020 due to a large number of people being infected by it. This particular strain proved to be much more fatal than all others. Similarly, in South Africa, a new variant emerged. Referred to as B.1.351, it was first detected in October 2020. Lastly, P.1 came in from Brazil and was detected during January 2021. This particular variant contains additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies.

With the coronavirus and its variants hijacking our lives, we did come to a halt at some point during the course of the pandemic. But no matter what life still goes on. Despite the virus still being there, most of us have continued with our lives.

This virus might continue to linger on for a long time. However, what we can do for now is to alter our lifestyles around it. We can protect ourselves from the ongoing pandemic in Dubai and if we have the slightest doubt we can get a PCR test done to ensure we are COVID negative.

If you want to get a PCR test done, you can book one now at ServiceMarket.

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