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In January 2022, a video suggesting that “COVID” was an acronym for recognized and unknown variants of COVID-19 went viral on TikTok:
“COVID” shouldn’t be an acronym for recognized and unknown variants of COVID-19.
This video performs on the conspiratorial concept that the pandemic was deliberate (it wasn’t) and illustrates a typical false impression about COVID-19 variants. Whereas the omicron and delta variants have made headlines, there have really been a number of further variants.
How Many COVID-19 Variants Are There?
The above-displayed video lists 4 supposed variants (“C” for corona, “O” for omicron, “I” for IHU, and “D” for delta), however there have really been a number of further variants of COVID-19. Moreover, “corona” isn’t actually a variant. Relatively, it’s shorthand for “coronavirus,” the family of viruses to which SARS-CoV-2, the particular virus that causes COVID-19, belongs. We’ll focus on “IHU” in additional element within the subsequent part.
Omicron and delta are essentially the most well-known as a result of they’ve had essentially the most impression on the pandemic. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) lists each of those strains as “variants of concern,” or a “variant for which there’s proof of a rise in transmissibility, extra extreme illness (for instance, elevated hospitalizations or deaths), important discount in neutralization by antibodies generated throughout earlier an infection or vaccination, lowered effectiveness of therapies or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.”
The CDC has additionally found and is monitoring a number of different variants which can be categorised as “variants being monitored.” These variants, which embrace alpha, beta, gamma, epsilon, eta, iota, kappa, zeta, and mu, are variants that “don’t pose a major and imminent danger to public well being in the US.”
In an article from John Hopkins Medicine, Stuart Ray, M.D., vice chair of drugs for knowledge integrity and analytics, and Robert Bollinger, M.D., M.P.H., and Raj and Kamla Gupta professor of infectious ailments, talked extra about why COVID-19 has mutated into new variants:
Variants of viruses happen when there’s a change — or mutation — to the virus’s genes. Ray says it’s the nature of RNA viruses such because the coronavirus to evolve and alter steadily. “Geographic separation tends to lead to genetically distinct variants,” he says.
Mutations in viruses — together with the coronavirus inflicting the COVID-19 pandemic — are neither new nor sudden. Bollinger explains: “All RNA viruses mutate over time, some greater than others. For instance, flu viruses change usually, which is why docs suggest that you simply get a brand new flu vaccine yearly.”
“We’re seeing a number of variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which can be totally different from the model first detected in China,” Ray says.
“Completely different variants have emerged in England, Brazil, California and different areas. Extra infectious variants akin to beta, which first appeared in South Africa, might have elevated skill to re-infect individuals who have recovered from earlier variations of the coronavirus, and in addition be considerably proof against a number of the coronavirus vaccines in improvement. Nonetheless, vaccines at present used seem to supply important safety from extreme illness attributable to coronavirus variants.”
The CDC and the World Well being Group (WHO) have been utilizing the Greek alphabet to call new COVID-19 variants. The viral TikTok video, nevertheless, mentions a COVID-19 variant named “IHU,” which isn’t a letter within the Greek alphabet.
“IHU” refers to a variant that was lately found by docs in France. This variant has not (as of this writing) obtained an official designation from WHO and is at present informally acknowledged as IHU after the HU Mediterranee Infection, a hospital in France the place the variant was first found.
WHO stated that it was monitoring the variant however that, in the meanwhile, there was little purpose for concern. The New York Times reported:
The World Well being Group says that it’s monitoring a coronavirus variant detected in a small variety of sufferers in France, however that, for now, there’s little purpose to fret about its unfold.
The B.1.640.2 variant was first recognized in October and uploaded to Gisaid, a database for illness variants, on Nov. 4. Solely about 20 samples have been sequenced thus far, specialists stated this week, and just one since early December.
Abdi Mahmud, a Covid incident supervisor with the W.H.O., advised reporters in Geneva on Tuesday that the variant had been on the company’s radar since November, however added that it didn’t seem to have unfold broadly over the previous two months.
“That virus has had a whole lot of probabilities to choose up,” he stated.
What’s the ‘V’ COVID-19 Variant?
The viral TikTok video means that COVID is an acronym for each found and undiscovered variants. Whereas the “O,” “I,” and “D” variants have all been recognized, the “V” model of the coronavirus has but to reach, in response to this TikTok.
Nevertheless, there doubtless won’t be a “V” variant of COVID. As talked about above, well being officers have been naming new variants after letters within the Greek alphabet, however there isn’t any “V” within the Greek alphabet. The subsequent main variant will doubtless be named “pi,” adopted by “rho,” “sigma,” and “tau.”
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Bengali, Shashank. “A Variant Present in France Is Not a Concern, the W.H.O. Says.” The New York Occasions, 5 Jan. 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/05/world/covid-variant-france.html.
CDC. “Coronavirus Illness 2019 (COVID-19).” Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention, 11 Feb. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant-classifications.html.
COVID Variants: What You Ought to Know. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/well being/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/a-new-strain-of-coronavirus-what-you-should-know. Accessed 5 Jan. 2022.
WHO Declares Easy, Straightforward-to-Say Labels for SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Curiosity and Concern. https://www.who.int/information/merchandise/31-05-2021-who-announces-simple-easy-to-say-labels-for-sars-cov-2-variants-of-interest-and-concern. Accessed 5 Jan. 2022.
“WHO Official Downplays Menace of New COVID IHU Variant.” Time, https://time.com/6133106/ihu-new-covid-variant/. Accessed 5 Jan. 2022.