The variants of every virus keep on arising because of their mutating nature. Another variant of COVID-19 arised on November 2020 known as the Alpha variant or lineage B.1.1.7. Alpha variant is one of the newly emerging variants of concern.
Alpha variant was first observed in Great Britain in November 2020. Although this variant was identified in November but it started spreading violently in December 2020. Due to its vast spread this variant was named by CDC as the ‘’variant of concern’’ or the ‘’variant of interest’’. Soon after the Alpha variant was identified it was analysed that it has been the cause of disease in 114 countries across the globe.
First Identified: Kent,UK November 2020
Date of Designation: December,2020
How dangerous is the Alpha variant?
The Alpha variant was designated as a contagious and dangerous variant by CDC. The mutations in spike proteins of the Alpha variant were thought to be the cause of its increased infectivity rate. This strain is thought to be 30-50% more contagious than the original Wuhan strain of SARS-COV 2 virus.
Before the arrival of the deadly Delta variant, the Alpha virus was the cause of disease around the world. Additionally, the transmission rate of Alpha variant is 50% more than the original strain of COVID-19, and due to the Alpha variant the cases in the UK increased 7.5% per day.
Also a recent study released by the CDC in June mentioned that this variant was the cause of more than 66% cases in the US. Furthermore, according to different researchers due to the contagious nature Alpha variant has the ability to spread over a larger range and can lead more people to hospitals and is far more dangerous than the original Wuhan strain of COVID-19.
Symptoms of the Alpha Variant
This deadly variant had almost the similar symptoms of the original Wuhan strain of SARS-COV 2. The most commonly seen symptoms of Alpha variant are fever, cold, body aches and runny nose. No distinguishable symptoms of this variant have been seen because soon another variant of COVID-19 Beta and then the deadly Delta variant arised.
Mutations of Alpha variant
One of main causes of infectivity is the mutations in spike proteins of this virus. The Alpha variant has 17 more mutations than the original strain arised from China. One of the mutations 501Y has the ability to replicate in the upper air passageway of the human epithelial cells.
Another mutation N501Y has a receptor binding domain (RBD) that increases the ability of this variant to bind to the human receptors.
How effective are vaccines against Alpha variant?
The vaccines are made in accordance with the original strain, and no vaccine is thought to be 100% effective in preventing this deadly virus. However, there are some vaccines that act as a protective barrier against this disease.
The vaccines such as Pfizer, Biotech, AstraZeneca-Oxford, Johnson and Johnson, Novavax and Moderna act as a barrier and prevent severe hospitalisation and deadly conditions in case of Alpha variant. According to a study the vaccine Novavax had shown an effectiveness of 89.3% in case of clinical trials in the UK during Phase 3.
How to avoid the Alpha variant?
Vaccines are thought to be a barrier in case of preventing this variant. However, adopting different safety measures is also very important. In this regard, maintaining a proper distance of 1 metre and avoiding visiting crowded places, avoiding unnecessary outings, wearing a mask ,and sanitising your hands is very important. WHO has advised to use these safety measures for avoiding this deadly virus.
The Alpha variant is more deadly than the original variant. However much study was not made on this variant as soon in December 2020 another Beta variant arised and then similarly the other variants arised. Yet, WHO advised to take all the necessary precautions to stay safe from this deadly variant.
Reference and Sources
- Beta Variant: Introduction, Symptoms, Vaccines and Prevention
- Delta Variant: Introduction, Transmission Rate, Symptoms and vaccination
- Omicron: Overview, Transmissible, Vaccination and Severity of disease
- Gamma variant: Introduction, Severity, Symptoms and Precautions
- Omicron: Introduction, Scientist vs Omicron and Vaccines for omicron