New more ‘deadly’ Covid variant growing

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Omicron relatives called BA.4 and BA.5 are behind a fresh wave of COVID-19 in South Africa, and could be signs of a more predictable future for SARS-CoV-2.Infections with new variants of Omicron are rising in South Africa and Europe.
Scientists it is not yet clear whether BA.4 and BA.5 will cause much of a rise in hospitalizations in South Africa or anywhere. Further, the rise of BA.4 and BA.5 as well as that of another Omicron offshoot in North America could be that SARS-CoV-2 waves are beginning to settle into anticipated patterns.de Oliveira and his colleagues found that BA.4 and BA.5 emerged in mid-December 2021 and early January 2022, respectively. The lineages have been rising in prevalence since then, and currently account for 60 to 75 percent of COVID-19 cases in South Africa.
Researchers have also detected the variants in more than a dozen other countries, particularly in Europe. On the basis of the growth in BA.4 and BA.5 case numbers in South Africa which now average about 5,000 per day, from a low of around 1,200 in March.
The best way to stop variants developing or spreading is to keep pushing down infection rates and the transmission of the virus in community. By sticking to public health advice, getting vaccinated, wearing face coverings in busy indoor environments where ventilation is poor, and particularly when visiting hospitals and other health and care settings and when around people they know to be exposed, we can all play a role in tackling Covid-19.
Pakistan on Monday reported its first case of a new and more transmissible variant of Covid-19 with the authorities advising people to resume wearing masks in crowded places and get them vaccinated at the earliest.
This sub-variant of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was reported in a man who had arrived in Islamabad from a foreign country and had tested positive at the airport, said an official of the Ministry of National Health Services, wishing not to be quoted.
All those whom the person came in contact with have been quarantined. University of Health Sciences Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram said while the new variant was more transmissible, it was less deadly.
The National Institutes of Health detected this first case of the Omicron sub-variant, BA.2.12.1. “This new variant is causing an increasing number of cases in different countries. The best preventive measure (besides mask-wearing at crowded places) is Covid-19 vaccination. We strongly recommend getting vaccinated, and all those due for booster must get the shots immediately,” stated the institution, which is looking after Covid-related matters since the National Command and Operation Centre was officially shut down.
The health ministry official said the patient tested positive at the airport and later, during genome sequencing, it was confirmed that he was infected with the new variant. “We have decided not to mention the name of the country from where the patient had travelled to Pakistan.
However, the new variant has been continuously spreading in different countries. The patient is feeling well and all his contacts have been quarantined at their home,” he said. “Although the variant is more transmissible, the good thing is that all the vaccines are effective against it. So we request the masses to get them vaccinated at the earliest and those who have been vaccinated should get their booster shots,” he cautioned.
The BA.2.12.1 was responsible for 29pc of new US Covid-19 infections in the third week of April, according to data reported by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The variant has been detected in at least 13 other countries. Scientists say it spreads even faster than stealth Omicron.
The development comes as Pakistan is witnessing a decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases, which have dropped significantly during the past few weeks. According to the NIH data, 64 new cases of the virus were reported across the country in the last 24 hours and their positivity rate was 0.49 per cent. As many as 92 patients were receiving critical care.
The virus was first detected in China in December 2019 and then started spreading in other countries. Pakistan had closed its borders and took a number of steps to stop its transmission due to which the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the last week of February 2020.
On March 13, the first meeting of the National Security Committee, composed of top civil and military leadership, was held to discuss the crisis which was later declared pandemic by the World Health Organisation. So far five waves of Covid-19 have been reported in Pakistan.
The variant has been detected in at least 13 other countries, but the US has reported the highest levels so far, with scientists warning that it spreads faster than stealth Omicron.
Pakistan has administered a total of 246,442,655 doses of vaccines so far, with the number of fully vaccinated climbing to well over 120 million.
The covid-19 pandemic directly or indirectly caused 14.9 million deaths as of the end of 2021, according to a WHO report. In major analysis, officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) calculated the number of pandemic-related deaths that occurred globally between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2022.
The researchers combined national death data for each country with statistics from scientific studies carried out in the same country. They also used a statistical model to account for deaths that may have been otherwise overlooked. The team then estimated the number of fatalities that would have been expected had the pandemic not occurred, comparing the two figures to give an “excess” of 14.9 million.
This excess includes deaths directly caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as those that were indirectly caused by the pandemic, such as people who died prematurely because healthcare systems were overwhelmed. According to John Hopkins University data, just over 6.2 million people have died of covid-19 worldwide, not taking into account the pandemic’s indirect deaths.
More than one in 10 people hospitalized with covid-19 could have severe neurological symptoms, a study suggests. Researchers at Boston University studied more than 16,000 people who were hospitalized with covid-19 in 24 countries between March 2020 and March 2021.
Nearly 13 per cent of the participants developed a serious neurological condition – like a stroke, seizure or encephalopathy, an umbrella term for disease that alters the brain’s function or structure at admission or during their hospitalization.
Battling SARS-CoV-2 virus may temporarily boost your protection against other coronavirus strains, including those that cause common cold-like symptoms.
In a small study, scientists at Scripps Research in the US found serum samples from people who had recently fought off SARS-CoV-2 virus reacted more strongly to the spike proteins of other coronavirus strains than samples taken from people pre-covid-19.

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