A new variant of COVID-19 known as Omikron, recently detected in South Africa, has banned flights to and from parts of Africa, and has resulted in vigorous research to determine the effectiveness of the vaccine against it.
There is also the Gamma variant, which is 0.1 percent. cases, as well as Alpha and Beta, each of which is less than 0.1 percent. Lesser known variants like Lambda and Mu are rare and not yet fully researched.
However, the WHO is of the opinion that there are regional and national differences where other variants predominate, e.g. in some South American countries where Delta spreads more slowly.
According to the researchers, the emergence of new variants is a natural process that occurs when the coronavirus mutates to ensure its survival. Most variants have little or no effect on the virus’s ability to infect or cause serious disease.
However, some variants can influence the ability to spread the virus, the severity of the disease they cause and how well the vaccine can respond to them.
WHO experts, who study COVID-19 evolution, gathered on Friday to determine whether the new variant should be considered “worrying” or “interesting.” They announced that it would take “several weeks” to determine how infectious Omikron was and how severe it could cause the disease.
Currently, only variants Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta have classified the WHO as “of concern”. Mu and Lambda are considered “interesting variants” as they show genetic changes potentially meaning they can become more infectious, harder to detect or cause serious disease.
The Delta variant is approximately twice as infectious as the other variants, and vaccines are approximately 40 percent less effective in preventing it than the other variants.