COVID Second Wave in India & Symptoms of New Mutant/Variant
The Covid-19 pandemic has been around for more than a year now. So, by now, you probably know that the Coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV2, was discovered in China in 2019 and since then has caused devastating changes across the world affecting people of all ages.
Since it was discovered, the virus has changed and mutated rapidly, leading to new variants and new symptoms being discovered in those infected. These variants have been part of a renewed and more deadly second wave in India.
And this has made it more important than ever for us all to know all the essential information about Covid-19, the second wave, and the new variants and symptoms out there.
What is the second wave of Covid-19?
The first cases of Covid-19 were recorded in India in March 2020, and from then up to September 2020, more and more cases were reported. However, after September, the number of cases began to decline, and it was reported that the first wave had begun to end.
By early 2021, only a handful of cases were being reported across the country. However, from February 2021, cases of Covid-19 began to rise again, more exponentially than before, leading to the start of the second wave of the Covid pandemic in India.
That means that it is the second time that cases are on the rise. This time around, the virus spread faster across the country and is said to be more infectious than before.
What caused the second wave?
While it is not known what exactly caused the second wave of Covid-19, there are a few factors that have contributed to this sharp rise. These include:
- Many public gatherings – when infection rates in January fell, many in India let their guard down, and many crowded gatherings were held across the country.
- Pandemic fatigue – after a year of lockdowns and Covid-19 news, many people around the country became careless about following Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing and mask-wearing. Additionally, numerous spaces, schools, and more began to reopen with few protective measures in place.
- Mutant variants – a number of new mutations and new strains of the coronavirus have been identified around the world (especially from the UK, South Africa, and India), some of which are more infectious and transmissible.
What are the new symptoms of Covid-19 in the second wave?
These new mutant variants have given rise to new symptoms of Covid-19. Normal symptoms of Covid-19 include a respiratory tract causing an infection that can cause fever, dry cough, joint aches and pains, lethargy and weakness, and a sore throat.
However, with the current second wave and new variants, new symptoms of Covid-19 have been observed. Therefore, it is important to identify them to take timely treatment and avoid complications. They include:
- Fatigue – one of the first symptoms reported by Covid-19 patients is feeling fatigued and tired, often before any other symptoms develop. This is often a result of the body’s immune response fighting off the virus.
- Gastrointestinal tract infections – stomach issues associated with Covid-19 are loss of hunger, vomiting, abdominal pain, and loose stools.
- Diarrhoea – loose, watery stools lasting between 1 to 14 days is one of the symptoms seen in Covid-19 patients during the second wave.
- Pink eye or conjunctivitis – itching, redness, swelling, eye irritation, and sensitivity to light can accompany an infection from one of the new strains. This happens when the infection passes from respiratory droplets to the eye.
- Hearing loss – another symptom being noticed is a sudden hearing loss, impaired hearing, or ringing sound in your ears (tinnitus).
- Dry mouth or not enough saliva – another common symptom in the second wave of Covid-19 is the decreased saliva production leading to a dry mouth and dry tongue. This can lead to difficulty in eating.
- Headaches – sudden headaches that do not subside with painkillers are among the new symptoms of coronavirus infections.
- Skin rashes – rashes on hands and feet (that might develop as a result of the immunological response to the virus) is another common new symptom.
- Bluish discolouration of fingers and toes – lack of oxygen to the extremities can cause hypoxemia and lead to this bluish discolouration which is known as cyanosis.
- Bleeding from the nose and throat – in more serious cases, infection and dryness can lead to bleeding from the nose and the throat, especially while coughing.
If you experience any of these symptoms, isolate yourself from the other members of your household. And as soon as possible, consult your doctor and get tested for Covid-19.
What are the mutant variants of Covid-19?
Almost all viruses constantly change over time by mutating, and while some of these variants persist, others might just die out. The virus that causes Covid-19 is a type of coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that are named for the crown-like spikes that cover their surfaces.
Mutant variants often display changes to these spikes on the surface of the virus. As a result, multiple variants of this virus have been found around the world since the start of the pandemic.
These include the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the UK, the B.1.617 variant first seen in India, and the B.1.351 variant initially detected in South Africa. Such mutant variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than the regular virus and even other mutant variants, which may lead to more cases of Covid-19.
Additionally, there is concern that due to the change in the structure of the virus, the new mutant variants of Covid-19 are not detectable by RT-PCR tests.
Double mutant variants
In March 2021, a new “double mutant” variant of the Covid-19 virus was detected in India. A double mutant is when two different mutations come together in the same virus. The double mutant variant in India is said to consist of the E484Q and L452R mutations occurring together.
The concern with such kinds of mutant viruses is that the mutations can make the virus more infectious, or make it less affected by antibodies and thus less likely to be prevented by vaccines. Additionally, it might also make it more likely to re-infect someone who has already recovered from Covid-19, and reduce herd immunity.
Triple mutant variants
Recent reports show that there is a new variant emerging in cases across India. This “triple mutant” of Covid-19 (known as B.1.618) might have evolved from the double mutant and contains the E484K and D618G mutation. It is likely to be even more highly transmissible and unaffected by any immune response. Currently, more research and tests are being done on the “triple mutant” and the efficacy of current vaccines against this variant.
How to keep yourself safe during the new Covid-19 wave?
Like during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the new strains of the coronavirus also spread through respiratory droplets from infected persons and through contact with contaminated surfaces. However, there is also evidence that it spreads through airborne transmission.
This means that you still need to take the same precautions as before, as well as a few new ones, such as:
Stay at home as much as possible and go out only when necessary.
If you need to go out for any reason (especially for work), remember to double mask. This means wearing a surgical mask underneath a double-layered cloth mask or an N95 mask. Wear the mask whenever you are outside.
Sanitize your hands when you touch any surface or object outside your home that might have been contaminated.
After going out, wash your clothes and disinfect anything else you were wearing (like watches, bags, or glasses).
Disinfect or clean any groceries, food deliveries, or parcels that you take into your home.
Go and get vaccinated as soon as you can to reduce the chances of getting Covid-19 or spreading it.
With the second wave of the Covid pandemic spreading fast across the country, and experts predicting a third wave sooner or later, it is more important than ever for everyone to take precautions to ensure that we can come out of the current situation.
So, don’t let complacency set in and continue to wear masks, stay at home, maintain social distancing, and do everything to avoid getting infected by the virus. And remember, our one main weapon against the virus is the Covid-19 vaccine, so get vaccinated as soon as you can.