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Are new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus of concern?

Are new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus really of concern?  - Photo 1.

A microscope image provided by the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows particles of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a patient’s specimen. Photo: AFP/VNA

In a recent announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the recombinant version between 2 variants BA.1 and BA.2 of Omicron, first recorded in the UK, known as XE, may be the most contagious variant ever. XE is estimated to be 10% more infectious than BA.2 – which is also believed to spread faster than the original variant Omicron.

Meanwhile, China – the first country to record the world’s first cases of SARS-CoV-2 virus, announced that it had recorded two new variants of Omicron whose genetic sequence did not match any of the expressed variants. have any. It is not clear whether the epidemic situation in China will have a small impact or be a sign of large outbreaks in the future.

Rajeev Venkayya, a former White House adviser on biosecurity policy and CEO of pharmaceutical company Aerium Therapeutics, said in March that if China’s measures were to contain the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2 viruses, especially contagious variants like Omicron, are ineffective, which will pose a great threat. In fact, failing to control the virus can cause the virus to produce more mutations, making vaccines and treatments less effective.

The fact that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has “raged” in mainland China again after nearly two and a half years, mainly due to the appearance of new variants, leading to a vicious circle of new cases and increased deaths. in the same area, has really become a problem for the world to decide to live with COVID-19.

The number of new variant infections is very low compared to the scope of the outbreaks around the world. UK health authorities have recorded more than 630 infections variant XEbut thinks more information is needed.

Mr. Leo Poon, virologist and professor at the University of Hong Kong (China), who has been monitoring and reporting on the emergence of new variants, said that it is necessary to closely monitor new recombinant versions, but Don’t panic at this point.

In fact, the world has recorded a combination of Delta and Omicron variants, some people infected with both variants. Mr. Leo Poon said that if a variant was detected in many areas and spread in the community, this would be really worrying.

China’s announcements of the emergence of new variants are only in the early stages, so it is difficult to grasp the epidemic situation at present. Over the weekend, officials in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, about 110 kilometers from Shanghai, announced the arrival of a variant derived from BA.1. Notably, this variant does not coincide with any existing gene sequences in China or in the global scientific database GISAID. This variant was detected in a patient with mild COVID-19.

The second new variant derived from BA.2 was recorded in Dalian city, discovered in a fashion store employee selling clothes imported from Korea. All 400 cases of close contact with the patient tested negative.

Currently, Asia has recorded all the SARS-CoV-2 virus variants appearing in the world. On April 2, Thailand announced the first case of infection with XE variant.

Stephen Goldstein, a virologist at the University of Utah, said most of the new infections in mainland China and Hong Kong stem from existing variants. Therefore, although it is not really a threat to global health, it still needs to be on high alert.

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