It is two years now since a ‘mere virus’ held the world in its grasp. Coronavirus and its many variants had never stopped giving we the people nightmares ever since they day they were first detected in 2020. The virus then and as its emerging variants today are still silent killers.
Coronavirus infection has been taking a huge toll on human health and the health care management system since 2020. So far, a number of variants, both mild and severe, have emerged. Of all the coronavirus variants that have emerged, since 2020, five have been put under variants of concern category.
The latest dominant variant of coronavirus, called Omicron, is currently responsible for the COVID infections occurring across the world. This variant, also known as the milder variant has two sub variants BA.1 and BA.2. BA.2, is currently wreaking havoc in many countries and is called the ‘stealth variant’. Though it has many common mutations with BA.1 Omicron variant, it does not have a genetic deletion on the spike protein which makes it difficult to be identified in RTPCR test. Hence, tracking this variant is more time consuming, hence the name ‘stealth’.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said “that based on available data of transmission, severity, re-infection, diagnostics, therapeutics and impacts of vaccines BA.2 will be considered as a variant of concern. Due to its genetic composition the virus was able to escape surveillance of conventional methods of detection like RTPCR. Studies have shown that BA.2 has growth advantage over BA.1. Studies are ongoing to understand the reasons for the growth advantage, but initial data suggest that BA.2 appears inherently more transmissible than BA.1, which currently remains the most common Omicron sub-lineage reported".
The stealth sub variant of the milder coronavirus variant till now has not shown any distinct symptoms as such. However, it is known that the coronavirus behaves differently in different bodies, therefore it is difficult to detect a particular set of symptoms for a particular variant or subvariant. The early symptoms of stealth variant induced COVID infection can be dizziness and fatigue. The symptoms can be seen two to three days after being exposed to the virus. The other main symptoms of COVID are mild fever, runny nose, difficulty in breathing, sore throat, headache, body pain, etc.
BA.2 is mainly responsible for the massive COVID wave in China. COVID cases have increased sharply in the United Kingdom also, while in Germany 250,000 new cases are reported every day. High numbers of COVID cases are also being seen in France, Switzerland, Italy and the Netherlands. As per reports, from WHO, BA.2 variant accounts for more than half of the new COVID cases in Germany and 11% of total cases in the United States. In many countries of the world, BA.2 has overtaken BA.1 subvariant, a few months before the BA.1 sub variant had left behind the Delta variant at a faster pace. As of now around 500 cases has been reported in India. Hope this variant does not wreak havoc like the Second Wave.