SARS-COV 2 has been spreading quickly and devastatingly throughout the globe. The COVID-19 virus has been a nightmare for the whole world and has disturbed many people due to its increasing threat and mutating sites. Another strain of this devastating virus designated as the variant of interest or the variant of concern gained importance due to its vast spread across the globe.
The variant of interest B.1.351 also known as the ‘’Beta Variant’’ had been the topic of concern due to its high mutating sites that make it a dangerous variant of COVID-19. This variant is also known as the South African variant as it was first identified there in 2020. Let’s explore some of the features of this variant of concern.
Date of Designation : South Africa 18 December, 2020
Symptoms of Beta Variant
There are no significant symptoms that would help in differentiating this variant from the rest of the variants. The Beta variant didn’t give rise to a large number of cases in other countries that is why this variant was not given much importance or in depth study.
In comparison to the Wuhan strain this variant is considered to be more transmissible. As compared to the Alpha strain people developed 25% more severe symptoms and required 50% more care. Most of the symptoms of the Beta variant included similar body aches, fever, and loss of smell.
Why is this variant so dangerous?
The beta variant has many mutating sites. One of its mutating sites known as N501Y has a significant role in making this strain more contagious and easy in spreading. Furthermore, E484K has a very peculiar role and tricks the immune system by making the action of the vaccine weaker.
There is no specific evidence that can prove that this variant of concern is more dangerous than the previous variants. Yet, the risk of infectivity is significantly higher in older people and the people with a weaker immune system.
According to a report produced by WHO (World Health Organisation) the beta variant has been found in 130 countries across the globe.
Are vaccines effective against this variant?
All the vaccines were designed keeping in consideration the original strain of COVID. Most of vaccines are only effective to a limited extent against the Beta variant. However some vaccines acted as a barrier against this strain.
The doses of Novavax, AstraZeneca/Oxford and Janssen showed an effect that by producing some immunity against the variant the patient can be protected.
However, another study revealed that the vaccine AstraZeneca was only 10% effective against the variant of concern from mild-to-moderate Beta virus.
Several tests revealed that the doses of Moderna vaccine was effective against the Beta variant. After the analysis of Data from Qatar it was concluded that the 96% of the people who received doses of Moderna vaccine remained safe from Beta variant.
Data research for Pfizer showed that this vaccine proved to be 97% effective against the Beta variant.
How to avoid Beta Variant?
Since Beta variant produced less disease in its patients. Therefore it was given less importance and only a small amount of research was done on this variant of concern. The only thing that gained importance about this variant was the effect of different vaccines on this variant in which some proved to be very effective while others were least effective against it.
Maintaining a proper distance of 1 metre avoiding visiting crowded places and unnecessary outing. Moreover, wearing a mask and avoiding shaking hands. Adopting all the precautionary measures can help in combating this variant of interest.
The Beta variant soon faded in many areas because after its spread soon another variant Delta took its place and had caused far more disease in patients as compared to the Beta variant.
The Delta variant spread twice or thrice times faster than the Beta variant also this strain had a faster transmission rate and even more mutating sites that made it even a more dangerous strain. Yet, as compared to the original strain from Wuhan and strain from Alpha variant the Beta variant was dangerous.
Reference and Sources
- ”Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variants”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.