Variant Virus Threatens Public Health Risk Despite Vaccinations
Variant Virus Threatens Public Health Risk Despite Vaccinations
  • Son Go-eun
  • 승인 2021.08.31 16:13
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▲ a variant virus arising from COVID-19 (source= news.kbs.co.kr)
▲ a variant virus arising from COVID-19 (source= news.kbs.co.kr)

 Kim Sung-kyu of boy band INFINITE has been confirmed again to be infected with COVID-19 after vaccination. It has shaken people who dreamed of recovering their daily lives through vaccination. He inoculated the Janssen vaccine on June 10, however tested positive for COVID-19 on June 27. It means that he tested positive for COVID-19 after two weeks, the period the immune system was formed. Through continuing unexpected situations, vaccination is overshadowing, mounting anxiety about COVID-19.

 In Korea, a total of four types of COVID-19 vaccines are currently being inoculated, including AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Janssen and Moderna. COVID-19 vaccines can be largely classified as the mRNA vaccine Pfizer/Moderna and the viral vector vaccine AstraZeneca/Janssen. The mRNA vaccine helps form neutralizing antibodies by administering a viral antigen gene to the human body in RNA form. The adenovirus vector vaccine has strengths in strengthening cell immunity by putting a viral antigen gene into another virus and administering it to the human body.

▲ Vaccination rates worldwide as of June 26, 2021 (source= ourworldindata.org)
▲ Vaccination rates worldwide as of June 26, 2021 

 As of August 11, the vaccination rate for primary vaccinations is 41.6% of the population in Korea, and for secondary vaccinations is 15.4% of the population in Korea. With the start of vaccination, expectations have risen among the world that the end of COVID-19 will now be visible. However, anxiety has not abated because current vaccines typically have common side effects such as pain, headache, swelling, fatigue, fever, chills and nausea, as well as cases of infection confirmed after inoculation.

 According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), a total of 81 cases of Breakthrough Infection have been confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 as of July 6. Breakthrough Infection refers to cases where someone is infected even after two weeks of the antibody production period after one or two vaccinations. It is also considered an indicator of the possibility of spreading variants. there are also suspected cases of Breakthrough Infection in people who have been vaccinated against not only AstraZeneca and Pfizer, but also Janssen. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if Breakthrough Infection occurs, the death rate of severe diseases will deteriorate sharply.

 A more serious problem is the continuous outbreak of the variant viruses. COVID-19 currently mutates due to genetic sequence changes. In addition, most of the new variants have increased immunity avoidance and infection propagation. What make people more worried is that the variants so far occurred before vaccines were tested and approved, while future variants are highly likely to have increased resistance to vaccines and that new variants are likely to emerge due to interspecific cross infection.

Globally there is currently a lot of concern about the Delta variant

and the WHO is concerned about it too. 
- WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

 If this actually happens or is not prevented early enough, humans need to be mindful of the possibility of a completely different strain of variant viruses spreading around the world. A precursor phenomenon of this situation is the Delta variant originating from India. As it spreads worldwide, in Korea, 90% of new confirmed infection cases were reported domestically, resulting in delayed social distancing relief measures. Anthony Pouch, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), called the Delta variant the greatest threat, and infectious disease experts feared that “The variant would be really difficult to control."

▲ (source= ourworldindata.org)
▲ (source= ourworldindata.org)

 In the meantime, Delta Plus, another variant found in India, is raising anxiety. According to BBC, Delta Plus was found in nine countries including the United States, Britain, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, Russia, and China. Data of the Indian National Institute of Virology (NIV) show that Delta Plus has a "K417N" mutation protein that binds to lung cells more easily and encourages immune avoidance, which is about 60% more contagious than the Alpha variant first found. The risk is known to be much greater, as it has the characteristics of incapacitating or avoiding neutralizing antibodies.

 Amid rising cases of infections caused by the rapidly spreading variant viruses, including the Delta and Delta Plus variant, KDCA said that Booster Shot is being considered as a potential response measure. Booster Shot refers to "additional inoculation" after a certain period of increasing the effectiveness of the vaccine. Experts argue that the immune effect from vaccines decreases over time, and that Booster Shot is needed as the spread of the variant virus accelerates. According to a study by Oxford University, participants who received additional inoculation have strengthened antibodies and are particularly effective enough to respond to almost any variant.

 However, scientists predict that numerous variants will continue to occur and the current vaccine, developed from the first COVID-19 form, will be weakened. The mRNA-based and adenovirus-based vaccines inevitably have more side effects and weaker effects as the number of inoculations increases. Therefore, scientists around the world are putting their heads together to develop a polyvalent vaccine protecting against various types of viruses. According to the Financial Times, Chris Whitty, chief medical officer of the UK, said, "If the polyvalent vaccine comes out within five years, it will maintain a significant degree of stability even if new variants emerge."


To take a bucket of water and pour it on the fire

when the fire is still small

 Until now, when 2.3 billion doses of the vaccine were inoculated, no one knows when and how COVID-19 which has caused many infections and deaths worldwide will end. Humans need not to lower guard until the virus is defeated. The government should make concerted efforts to nip the new strain in the bud. Particularly, more efforts are needed to block imported cases of the variant as well as to avoid outbreaks in local communities. It is not just a government responsibility. It is also important for individuals to adhere consistently and fully to "hand, face, space" health practices.
▲Quarantine rules (source= iclickart.co.kr)
▲Quarantine rules (source= iclickart.co.kr)


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