By Dr. Zulfikar Bux
Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt Medical Centre
All around the world, newer variants of the SarsCov2 virus (coronavirus) are being formed as they rapidly spread from person to person. Some of these variants are responsible for the surge in cases in countries such as Brazil and India. As a result, the health systems in these and other countries are overwhelmed leading to devastating amounts of deaths on a daily basis. We need to learn from these experiences and avoid similar situations in Guyana. Today I will share with you the importance of mutations and why we should keep ahead of them and avoid the rising number of deaths that are currently occurring here.
What are mutations?
A virus uses the cells of its host to multiply and form more of itself so that it can continue to spread and thrive. Ever so often, error occurs when the virus is multiplying in the body of its host and it mutates into a different form of itself called a variant. So far, the coronavirus has mutated thousands of times and it will continue to mutate once there are people available for it to infect. Many of the mutations have been insignificant but a few of them have resulted in variants that are more infectious and deadly. The Brazilian, UK and South African variants are examples of more infectious and deadly mutants that have already occurred and are fuelling the new worldwide surge. Scientists are concerned that the double and triple mutants discovered in India are behind the deadly rise in cases there and that they may become vaccine resistant forms soon, given the rapid rate of spread there.
Why is it important to track mutations?
It is important that both scientists and the general population keep track of variants as they evolve. In this way, the more deadly and infectious ones can be detected early and measures be implemented before they spread beyond control like what occurred in Brazil and India. The chance of a new variant forming increases every time the virus infects someone. The obvious solution therefore lies in minimising spread by adherence to prevention measures and of course, getting vaccinated.
What are the variants doing to us?
Each new wave of COVID-19 infection worldwide has so far been traced back to a new variant. The first wave of infections came from the original SarsCov2 virus that came out of China. Then researchers detected a variant called D614G in Southern Europe which was responsible for the 2nd wave of infections worldwide. Since then, the spread of the infections became diverse and variants of interest from Brazil, UK, South Africa and now India, are the cause of the deadlier 3rd wave hitting the world currently. In India, variants with double and triple mutations are responsible for the devastation there and scientists are concerned about similar devastation if they escape and spread worldwide. Should this happen or these variants mutate into more deadlier forms, we will be facing the possibility of more waves of infections in the months to come.
How will mutations affect vaccines?
So far, the only reliable tool we have against COVID-19 are vaccines. Data so far, still give vaccines the edge over these variants. However, some vaccines are showing weaker effects and the concern is that at some point, variants may form that are totally resistant to the vaccines we have. In Guyana, we have effective vaccines that in theory should be effective against the suspected variants circulating with us. Yet, our death rates and infections are on the rise. We have the luxury that some in other parts of the world are fighting for; we can show up at the many vaccination sites countrywide and get vaccinated within a short time. Unfortunately, we have so many that are irresponsible and/ill-informed that refuse to be vaccinated.
As a country, we have a rare opportunity where there is ease of access to vaccines and numbers that are sufficient to help curb the spread of COVID-19 here. The difficulty lies in getting sufficient persons motivated so that they can choose vaccination over superstitious or irresponsible thoughts and actions. I’m not sure what’s the right answer but if you’re reading this article, please become a vaccine advocate and spread the facts and encourage those you know to get vaccinated. We can live in freedom again; do your part to help us get there sooner and save many lives in the process.
Jun 19, 2021Kaieteur News – Athletics Guyana (AG) Senior Championships commenced yesterday at the National Track and Field Facility, Leonora. In the Men’s 110m hurdles, Hosea Glen of Guyana Defence...
Jun 19, 2021
Jun 19, 2021
Jun 19, 2021
Jun 19, 2021
Jun 18, 2021
Kaieteur News – I don’t believe that there was a multi-dimensional argument that went into the rejection of the dangerous,... more
Freedom of speech is our core value at Kaieteur News. If the letter/e-mail you sent was not published, and you believe that its contents were not libellous, let us know, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]