COVID-19 Variants - What You Need to Know - Altus Emergency Safe 24/7

COVID-19 Variants – What You Need to Know

COVID-19 Variants What You Need to Know

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Variants

The following article on COVID-19 Variants is based upon official health sources such as WHO, CDC, and Texas Health & Human Services.  With so much information floating around about the pandemic, we hope to be able to break it down to the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 variants to help clarify a highly complex and quickly changing topic.  We recommend everyone to fact-check anything they hear, see or read with the official healthcare authorities.

Understanding the Variants Video Source: CDC

What is a COVID-19 Variant?

Before we even begin to get into COVID-19 variants, we’ll need to give you a quick biology class to understand what a variant really is.  As long as a virus is transmitted and allowed to thrive from host to host, it is expected to mutate and eventually create new variants.

 

As our human genetic material is called DNA, the virus genetic material is called RNA (ribonucleic acid).  A virus (which is not a living organism) needs to invade a happy and healthy cell in order to reproduce or replicate itself.  When it attacks the cell, it transmits its RNA making it a “sicky cell” and replicates it to basically make more virus-contaminated cells.  As the cells multiply, some errors can occur along the way so that they are not “perfect copies”, these unperfect copies of the original are called mutations.  When enough mutations occur, the strongest ones eventually set themselves apart from the rest (through natural selection) and become the dominant strain, a new variant.  (Source: Tufts University)

 

While there may be many mutations and variants, most will die but the stronger ones that survive can become dominant strains.  In the case of the COVID-19 virus, these are the ones who are being referred to as the “variants of concern”.

COVID-19 Varients of Concern in the US

Now, let’s get to know what the top COVID-19 Variants of Concern are within the US.  Since the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) was officially identified by Chinese authorities on January 7, 2020 (source: WHO), there have been four main variants of concern (source: CDC).

Alpha – B.1.1.7

First Identified: United Kingdom

When: November 2020

Spread: Spreads much faster than other variants

Severe illness and death: May potentially cause more people to get sicker and to die

Vaccine: Currently authorized vaccines do work against this variant. Some breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people are expected but remain rare. All vaccines are particularly effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Treatments: Treatments are effective against this variant

Beta – B.1.351

First identified: South Africa

When: October 2020

Spread: May spread faster than other variants

Severe illness and death: Current data do not indicate more severe illness or death than other variants

Vaccine: Currently authorized vaccines do work against this variant. Some breakthrough infections are expected but remain rare. All vaccines are particularly effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Treatments: Certain monoclonal antibody treatments are less effective against this variant

Gamma – P.1

First identified: Japan/Brazil

When: 6 January 2021

Spread: Spreads faster than other variants

Severe illness and death: Current data do not indicate more severe illness or death than other variants

Vaccine: Currently authorized vaccines do work against this variant. Some breakthrough infections are expected but remain rare. All vaccines are particularly effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Treatments: Certain monoclonal antibody treatments are less effective against this variant

Delta – B.1.617.2

First identified: India

When: Late 2020

Spread: Spreads much faster than other variants

Severe illness and death: May cause more severe cases than the other variants

Vaccine: Infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant. Some breakthrough infections are expected but remain rare. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others. Learn more here. All vaccines are particularly effective against severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

Treatments: Certain monoclonal antibody treatments are less effective against this variant

Consult the WHO website for an updated list of COVID-19 common, less common, and more severe symptoms.

Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.

Is There a Test for a Specific Variant?

You may be wondering, “If I get tested, can they tell which variant I may have?”  The simple answer is, “No” but it’s not that simple.  According to the CDC,

“All COVID-19 tests can detect all variants, but they will not tell you which variant you have.”

 

There are two types of tests:
  • Antigen Tests (Rapid Tests): Involves the detection of protein fragments associated with the virus.
  • PCR (Molecular):  This particular test detects the RNA (virus genetic material as previously described).

 

So basically, if you get an antigen test they cannot determine the specific variant.  However, scientists can track and investigate the COVID-19 variants through genomic sequencing.  As you can see, molecular testing does reveal genetic material that allows researchers to investigate the variants and be on the lookout for new ones.

The CDC answers the question, What is CDC doing to track SARS-COV-2 variants?

 

“In the United States, CDC tracks emerging variants through genomic surveillance with the following approaches:

  • Leading the National SARS-CoV-2 Strain Surveillance (NS3) system. Since November 2020, CDC regularly receives SARS-CoV-2 samples from state health departments and other public health agencies for sequencing, further characterization, and evaluation. On January 25, 2021, the NS3 system was scaled up to process 750 samples per week. Notable strengths of this system are the regular collection of numerous representative specimens from across the country and the characterization of viruses beyond what sequencing alone can provide.
  • Partnering with commercial diagnostic laboratories
  • Collaborating with universities
  • Supporting state, territorial, local and tribal health departments
  • Leading the SARS-CoV-2 Sequencing for Public Health Emergency Response, Epidemiology, and Surveillance (SPHERES) consortium”

 

Imagine all of the samples that the CDC, commercial diagnostic laboratories, and universities get on a daily basis.  That’s a lot of samples!

This helps give researchers the data to continuously look into the variants.  You may ask, “Why is genomic surveillance important for public health?”  Now that we have a good idea about what a variant of concern is, we can talk about the Variant of High Consequence.

What is a Variant of High Consequence?

Right now, the term, “variant of high consequence” is not circulating through the news.  We hope and pray that it never does.  While a variant of concern is basically what it says, causes concern but there are vaccines and treatments available, in the case of a variant of high consequence, there is none.

This would be a variant that would force scientists back to square one to find a new vaccine and treatments.

In other words, a variant of high consequence would render our current countermeasures useless. 

The CDC describes it as follows:

  • Demonstrated failure of diagnostic test targets
  • Evidence to suggest a significant reduction in vaccine effectiveness, a disproportionately high number of vaccine breakthrough cases, or very low vaccine-induced protection against severe disease
  • Significantly reduced susceptibility to multiple Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) or approved therapeutics
  • More severe clinical disease and increased hospitalizations
The good news is that currently there are no COVID-19 Variants of High Consequence.

Source: CDC

However, as it is in its nature, as long as the virus continues to spread, it will most likely continue to mutate into other forms of variants.  Some of the COVID-19 future variants may potentially be much more dangerous than the current variants.

Now is the time to prevent the rise of a COVID-19 Variant of High Consequence.

If you are presently unvaccinated, please take the time to read and educate yourself on the current overcrowded hospitals with so many unvaccinated suffering from severe COVID-19 complications. Vaccines in the US are highly effective, including against all variants including the Delta which is the strongest variant of interest in the US today.

“The COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States are highly effective at preventing severe disease and death, including against the Delta variant.” – Source CDC.

For those who are fully vaccinated, if you live or visit a place that is of high transmission you should consider wearing a face mask while indoors to avoid the spread.  To find out the transmission rating of your county, visit the CDC’s COVID Integrated County View.

Together We Can Stop the Spread

At Altus Emergency, we have been through natural disasters and now the pandemic without having closed our doors even once.  It is during these harsh times that we dive into the cause wholeheartedly.

With hospitals being severely overcrowded and emergency rooms closing, we put everything into helping our communities, day in and day out.  This has been a rough time for everyone, we hope and pray that if we all work together to help educate our communities, we can help put an end to this pandemic.  Please keep in mind that the unvaccinated are the most at risk for severe complications of all COVID-19 variants. 

According to health authorities, “Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.”  Putting an end to this pandemic is in all of our hands.

Altus Emergency Centers Texas is Here for You 24/7

Altus Emergency Centers are all open 24/7/365, with no lines. Our facilities are well-equipped to diagnose and treat everything from major to minor adult and pediatric emergencies. We are honored to be a part of our beautiful Texas communities and work hard each day to help see them grow and prosper!

24 Hour ER Services – Best in Texas

Looking for the best quality 24 hour ER services?

We offer the best 24 hour ER services in Texas. We have top of the line medical technology and highly experienced ER healthcare experts prepped and ready to care for you and your family in Baytown, Lake Jackson, Lumberton, and Waxahachie.

Each ER team is highly efficient in treating chest and abdominal pains, pediatric emergencies, flu symptoms, sports injuries, bone breaks, as well as all other major and minor injuries. All services are available 24/7, including weekends and holidays. After You Receive Quality ER Care, our Patient Advocate will help ensure Hassle-Free Billing.

Our Promise is to Always Help Find the Best Solutions in Benefit of our Patients from the time you walk-in without having to wait in line and when you are personally assisted with the billing process. We are here to help you get well and stay well!

HEALTH NEWS, EVENTS & MORE.

Online Medical Technology

heartBEATRed

😱 EMERGENCIES CAN BE SCARY!
This Halloween, 💀 Don't Turn into a Skeleton Waiting in Line!
🚨 Go to the NO WAIT ER Open 24/7, In-House Doctors 👨‍⚕️

⏱️ Check it out 👉 https://www.altusemergency.com/
🏥 #AltusERCenters Happy Halloween!

🌝 It looks like we're forecasting GREAT WEATHER AHEAD!
Tonight, we root for the #HoustonAstros . ⚾ 🏆 #TakeItBack Guys!
🎃 On #Halloween, we'll see you at the #TrunkorTreatLumberton2019!
Oct. 31st, 6:30pm - 8:30pm 137@ N Lhs Dr, Lumberton

Instagram