Back to phase 1 ?: They analyze whether a new variant of covid-19 could bring us back to the beginning of the pandemic

Could there be a variant of the coronavirus that will bring us back to what we live in 2020? This is the big question that scientists are trying to answer. This was assured by oncologist Elmer Huerta, an expert at George Washington University the impact of an epidemic on public health must be assessed in three elements in a new episode of the Coronavirus podcast: Fact vs. Fiction on CNN.

“Many people are wondering what will happen in the next few months with the new coronavirus and therefore with the pandemic. What can bring us back to zero? Is it the family of the omicron variant, BA.1, BA.2 and BA.3, which currently predominates, the latest variants and subvariants that we will see or other aggressive mutations? Or is it that, despite the appearance of new variants, the next ones will be relatively benign and will allow us to live with them? In reality, As the pandemic itself has taught us, it is very difficult to predict the future “, said the expert. And he added: “Let’s remember that when we already thought that the decline of the Delta variant heralded the endemic phase of the disease, the announcement came that a new variant, the Omicron, had been discovered.”

For the specialist, when studying the impact of an epidemic on public health, it is necessary to analyze three important elements: the infectious agent, the host and the environment.

The infectious agent of covid-19

Huerta explained that knowing that the original or wild virus was an RNA virus – known for its high mutation potential – it was feared that the moment it started infecting the first people it would start mutating. And that’s what happened. The first documented mutation of the virus was G614D, discovered first in Europe and then in the United States.appeared in the peak of the virus and was thought to increase its infectious capacity.

After we got used to hearing about new mutationsPerhaps it was the announcement of the Alpha variant in the UK at the end of December 2020 that kicked off the long list of variants we’ve grown accustomed to. Then we saw the Beta, Delta, Gamma, Epsilon and Mu variants arrive, among others, the latest being the Omicron and its sister, or sub-variant, the BA.2.

“So having that context, and when there are still millions of infections in the world, new mutations are very likely to occur in the future. The big question is, what kind of mutations will they be? Will they be relatively benign like omicron and BA .2, or Is it possible that there is a completely unexpected mutation that takes us back to zero pages? Will a mutation appear that will take us back to the beginning of everything?he remarked.

Scientists cannot predict the futurebut in a recent op-ed in the New York Times, American researchers venture – on the basis of what science has discovered so far – what would be the direction of the next mutations.

In the evolutionary process that leads to its persistence – experts say – viruses try to achieve two important properties: firstly, to be more and more infectious and, secondly, to evade neutralizing antibodies produced against them by vaccines or natural diseases. And this is precisely what the Ómicron variant and its sub-variant BA.2 achieved, which, on the one hand, are extraordinarily contagious and, on the other hand, are capable of infecting people who have already been vaccinated or who have had the disease, characteristics that they have allowed them to cause a very high number of infections in the world.

While it is impossible to predict whether a more transmissible variant of Omicron and BA.2 will emerge, Experts say it is very likely that the novel coronavirus is reaching its limit about that feature.

The mystery of the intensity of the disease

“The second element in the triad of epidemics is the host.and in this sense we still do not have a clear biological explanation of why, faced with the same virus, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic it was seen that about 80% of people had a mild or asymptomatic disease, 15% had it more severe disease and 5% were complicated and could die, ”Huerta said.

Ofonly those people with certain risk characteristics could be determinedobese, with chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, with cancer or immune problems, They were more likely to get complicated. This distribution changed with the appearance of vaccines, as it was observed that vaccinated people could be infected and, despite being people at increased risk of complications, they showed mild signs of the disease.

the third element

Finally, the third element of the triad of epidemics —The environment— will be determined by public health policies defined by the authorities after analyzing the epidemiological data presented. “In this sense”, he continued, “the situation of the coronavirus pandemic in China is of great concern, because due to the zero covid policy that has been implemented since the beginning of the pandemic, the authorities of that country of 1.4 billion inhabitants are struggling with outbreaks that have the potential to spread, causing infections that can give rise to new variants.

In short, experts say, It is very likely that the future of the pandemic will be determined by the appearance of variants with high contagiousness and the ability to evade neutralizing antibodies. This will force us to get vaccinated every year, like we do with the flu. “The fact that we have been able to modify the severity of the disease with the use of vaccines is very important and reinforces the need to educate the population about the benefits of the vaccine, since no doubt the new coronavirus has arrived and it will depend on each, if protect yourself or not, “he concluded, according to what was published Infobae.

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