COVID-19 Variants: The Untold Truth of Omicron And Other Variants

COVID-19 VARIANTS

With the dawn of the dangerous COVID-19 virus rapidly spreading worldwide, there have been several other variants that have turned out to be infectious and capable of causing severe symptoms. COVID-19 variants spread much faster than its predecessor, but do not pose a life threatening possibility. Is this true across Delta, Alpha, Beta & Omicron variants? Well, it is proven that Omicron spreads faster than other COVID-19 variants, but it does not pose any risk of hospitalization and mortality.

Contents

  1. What Are COVID-19 Variants? 
  2. Types of COVID-19 Variants
  3. Difference Between Omicron And Other Variants
  4. Common FAQs

So, what are the different types of COVID-19 variants and what precautions can be  taken to protect ourselves? Let’s dive deep to find out more.

What Are COVID-19 Variants?

COVID-19 variants are different types of Coronavirus or new mutations of the virus that can cause common symptoms such as nausea, joint pain, sneezing, sore throat, common cold and cough, headaches, fatigue and nasal congestion. 

However, the latest variants, Omicron and Delta, are being studied extensively today to understand its transmission and severity. This will help us understand how to treat it and prevent it from spreading.

Types of Coronavirus Variants

The different types of coronaviruses that are prevalent in the world today [as termed by the World Health Organization (WHO)] are:

  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Gamma
  • Delta
  • Mu
  • R.1
  • Omicron
  • Florona

NOTE: A virus keeps evolving (mutating) until we figure out a way to extinct it. The evolution of a virus may be caused due to the genetics of the virus, environmental changes or lifestyle changes. Medical scientists worldwide have been tracking and analysing how a virus evolves and acts on the human body.

Difference Between Omicron And Other Variants

Type of COVID VariantDescription
AlphaIdentified in England, this variant could spread much faster than the initial COVID-19 virus (original SARS-CoV-2 virus) that infected us. Symptoms include muscle ache, headache, chills and loss of appetite.
BetaFirst identified in Nigeria and South Africa, this variant had the same transmission speed and symptoms of the alpha variant, but it had caused a rise in death rate worldwide. 
GammaIdentified in early 2021 (Brazil), this variant seemed to attack people who already had COVID-19. It had the same symptoms of COVID-19, but was not found to be life threatening. 
DeltaFound in India during late 2020, it created a rapid fire spread during April 2021 causing immediate lockdown across countries like India, UK, US, Europe and Australia. It has a 50% higher transmission rate than the initial COVID-19 that makes it deadly. 
Mu

Identified during early January in Colombia, this variant created a spike in cases especially in Europe. Cases began to diminish during late Sept 2021 but scientists continue to track its prevalence. 

The WHO confirms that the ‘Mu’ variant has mutations that can help prepare COVID vaccines. It has been termed as the ‘Variant of Interest’ by the WHO. 

R.1

First identified in Japan, it created an outbreak after a healthcare staff passed it onto other staff. Its symptoms were found similar to Alpha, Beta, Gamma & Delta but its spread was a concern of doubt. 

The WHO had termed it as a ‘Variant Under Monitoring’ because scientists believe that it may pose a life threatening risk to the future of humankind.

Omicron

First identified during late 2021 in South Africa, this variant is said to be the fastest spreading strand in the Coronavirus family. It was named after the fifteenth letter in the Greek alphabet. It has been termed as a ‘Variant of Concern’ by the WHO because of its rapid spread. 

Symptoms show scratchy sore throat, common cough,cold,severe tiredness and mood swings. Initial research has indicated that shortness of breath and a loss of smell/taste is not associated with this variant, but on-going research may come up with new data. 

Omicron variant may be less life-threatening to the younger population but for the older population and people with underlying disease (eg. people with diabetes, hypertension,etc.) or weakened immune systems are at higher risk of complications, if infected with Omicron variant.The WHO including world governments are studying its transmission and severity. 

FloronaFirst identified in Israel, this variant is a mix of two diseases i.e. COVID-19 and Influenza. Symptoms include runny nose, fatigue, fever, sore throat and cough. This condition can be infectious and dangerous if not treated timely. 

Frequently Used Questions

The Delta variant is considered to be the most dangerous of all the other variants like Omicron, Alpha, Gamma and Beta. This is because the Delta Variant spreads 50% much faster than the Omicron and has led to an increase in hospitalization and can be  life threatening.

People infected with Omicron experience symptoms such as scratchy sore throat, stuffy nose/running nose, headache, muscle ache and cough. The Delta variant sees almost the same symptoms except that most people affected with Delta had severe shortness of breath and other common symptoms that caused a spike in deaths worldwide.

Florona is a mixture of COVID-19 as well as Omicron. As per WHO,  if the symptoms are mild in COVID-19 and flu infection, home treatment can be an option after consultation with your treating physician and hospitalization may not be required. 

If the combined infection is of severe nature, pneumonia, myocarditis and inflammation in heart muscles can set in. In Florona infection, hospitalization and close monitoring would be required as if not treated on time may be life threatening. Omicron variant spreads faster than Florona but does not pose a life threatening risk.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 variants can stay on surfaces (Plastic & Stainless Steel) for upto 72 hours and on cardboard for 24 hours.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap
  • Wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth (N95/surgical mask)
  • Avoid frequent travelling
  • Keep a distance of at least 1 meter from people
  • Avoid social & public gatherings
  • Get yourself fully vaccinated
  • Avoid being around sick people
  • Consume immunity boosting foods
Disclaimer: The content presented here is only for educational and informational purposes. The views expressed are of the author and it is not intended to be advice on healthcare by Phablecare.

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