Explained: What are COVID-19 variant classification and threat levels

COVID-19 variants
Delta Plus or AY.1 COVID-19 strain has been classified as the variant of concern (VOC) in India

Delta Plus or AY.1 COVID-19 strain has been classified as the variant of concern (VOC) in India. The new variant is a mutation in the COVID-19 Delta or B.1.617.2 strain and has already been found in nine countries – the US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Russia, China and India. Also Read: COVID-19 vaccines: mRNA-based Pfizer and Moderna jabs causing heart inflammation in young population

What are threat levels of COVID-19 variants: US agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has formed an arrangement to classify SARS-CoV-2 variants based on the level of danger they present to the public, drawing inspiration from the World Health Organization (WHO). The classification was established as part of the SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group (SIG). Also Read: Spinal cord stimulation: FDA approves Medtronic’s Vanta neurostimulator for chronic pain with battery life of 11-years!

As per the CDC, the COVID threats are classified into three classes:

Variant of Interest (VOI): The genetic markers in these variants affect how well the virus clings to cells. They also may decrease the efficiency of antibodies developed against SARS-CoV-2 from a previous infection or vaccination. These variants are much more serious and cause serious illness when compared to other variants. These variants may be less receptive to monoclonal antibody treatments and vaccine. Variant first found in US B.1.427/B.1.429 or Epsilon, Brazilian P.2 or Zeta, B.1.525 or Eta, P.3 (Theta), B.1.526 (Iota), Indian or Kappa variant also known as B.1.617.1 and C.37 (Lambda) are classified as VOI.

Variant of Concern (VOC): The SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern show signs of rising transmissibility, hospitalization or death. In these variants, there is evidence of a significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies produced during previous infection or vaccination, the reduced success of treatments or vaccines, or even detection failures. COVID-19 coronavirus variants like B.1.1.7 or Alpha first acknowledged in the UK, B.1.351 or Beta found in South Africa, Gamma or P1 found in Brazil and B.1.617.2 or Delta found in India on Oct-2020.

Variant of High Consequence (VOHC): The variants that fall under this classificationare known to go undetected and have reduced vaccine efficacy. People affected by this variant shows insufficient response to treatment with a higher number of hospitalizations. As of now, there are no COVID-19 coronavirus variants of high consequence.

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