After the UK strain, newer strains from Brazil, and South Africa has made their way into India. Though the number of cases has reached a surprisingly low in the country, four people are detected with newer variants of the virus from South Africa and one has tested positive for the Brazilian variant. The mutation of the virus is not scary in general but the recent trend of rising numbers makes it look scary. The newer mutations are more contagious and infectious and have more symptoms than previously known.
The UK variant was considered to be the most threatening one till now, with the highest rate of mortality. But both Brazilian and South African variants can be equally infectious, as all the three carry the same genetic code- E484K. The code evades the immune system of the body and prompts infection. However, there is no proof that they can cause serious infection or mortality.
Now the fear is whether or not the current vaccines can work against the newer mutations, which are more transmissible. Only time has the answer to this question. The CDC has observed that the African variant has a genetic sequence, which can even evade the antibodies produced by the vaccines, and this indicates that the effect of the vaccines on new variants may be lesser.
If the transmission rate is higher in new variants, then there will be a spike in the number of cases and all the efforts taken till now will go for a toss. But since it is a relatively new development, there is no evidence available right now.
The symptoms of new variants are different from the classic symptoms which include muscle and body pain, called myalgia. It is a symptom associated with severe to moderate COVID infections till now, but with the new variant people complaint of myalgia at the initial stage itself. This happens as the virus damages the fibers and tissues of the muscles. It might also happen when there is acute inflammation in the body. The pain might be severe and might linger for a longer period.
Another symptom is Fatigue. It was also associated with the original strain, but it is more common with the newer strains. During high fever, the patient might have chronic fatigue, viral malaise, disorientation.
The third important symptom is persistent coughing along with a sore throat. The precedence of the symptoms is more common with newer strains. Coughing, stiffness, inflammation, or sore throat becomes the first sign that the virus is replicating fastly in the respiratory system. Some patients might also experience a runny nose and shortness of breath.
The new variant does not cause loss of smell and taste more commonly as in the original strain. Also, it is not necessary that the patient would get a fever.
Therefore as it is very unpredictable, you shall still be careful about all the possible symptoms and get tested if need be, and quarantine yourself for everyone else’s safety and well-being.