THE Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) said today (May 10) that the Indian variant of coronavirus has reached Thailand with a pregnant Thai woman and one of her three sons who returned home from Pakistan being confirmed to have been exposed to it, Amarin TV said.
CCSA’S assistant spokeswoman Dr. Apisamai Srirangsan said the 25-week pregnant Thai woman, 42, together with her three sons, aged four, six and eight years, arrived here on April 24 and a test confirmed that she and one of her sons had been infected with the Indian strain on April 26.
However her other two sons were not infected and have been quarantined.
The Public Health Ministry’s Disease Control Department was already watching out for the Indian strain with the Centre for Emerging Clinical Diseases, Chulalongkorn Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society, confirming that the two of them had caught the Indian B.1.617.1 variant.
Regular flights between India and Thailand was halted on May 1 with there only being special flights to bring Thais back home. The CCSA will be discussing whether to ban all flights between the two countries.
Meanwhile a News 18 India channel’s report gives details about the new Covid variant.
This report says while the most common symptoms remain dry cough, fever, loss of taste, and smell, there has been evidence of the mutated forms of the virus producing different symptoms and reportedly being more transmissible.
Some studies have established that the virus can quickly escape immune defences present along some vital organs, and unleash an attack in more impactful ways.
Fever, which is not predominantly seen with all cases carrying the original strain, is considered to be a more severely seen symptom in cases tested positive for the new mutation.
Reports have also stated that certain other symptoms such as hearing loss, muscle pain, skin infections, distorted vision, stomach upset and conjunctivitis, which are otherwise scarcely observed may be more common with the newer strains.
“Nowadays, we are seeing new covid strain, and some newer symptoms are found in patients like fever, pain in muscles, dry and persistent cough, and loss of smell and taste. In addition to conjunctivitis, sore throat, headache, rashes, upset stomach, and discolouration of fingers and toes,” Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder and Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals told ANI.
Is the virus more transmissible this time?
According to new studies, the UK variant or the Kent variant, B.1.1.7, spreads more easily and quickly than other variants.
In an interview with Times of India, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria said, “We have observed that one primary patient (index case) is able to affect more people this time. During the earlier peak, one patient could spread the disease to 30-40% of his or her contacts. This time, it has been observed that 80-90% of people who come in contact with a patient turn positive.”
The UK-based New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) recently reported that the Kent variant may be up to 70 per cent more deadly than previous strains.
Health experts have cited that those who test positive for the variant are more likely to report persistent cough, tiredness, muscle aches, sore throat and fever compared to those who have the original strain.
In South Africa, another variant called B.1.351 emerged independently of B.1.1.7. Originally detected in early October 2020, B.1.351 shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases caused by this variant were reported in the US at the end of January 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Will vaccines need to be reconfigured?
A recent study also revealed that the Kent strain has acquired a mutation similar to the South African variant – making it more likely to resist vaccines.
Vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have already announced that they are working to modify their vaccines, and possibly to create booster shots, to better protect against the South African variant.
According to various reports, the three variants carry the same genetic mutation – E484K – that allows it to evade the immune defences in the body, leading to infection. However, the mutated variants are comparatively new and under radar by various health experts and scientists, so it may take a while for us to know the exact symptoms of these variants.
Top: Indians wait to refill oxygen cylinders for Covid-19 patients at a gas supplier facility in New Delhi on May 8. Photo: CNN
Home Page: Central Reserve Police Force at a temporary check point during Covid-19 Corona Curfew in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir, on May 9. Photo: CNN