There are many variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Some are believed, or have been stated, to be of particular importance due to their potential for increased transmissibility, increased virulence, or reduced effectiveness of vaccines against them. These variants contribute to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the better known have been: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and more recently Omicron.
In chronological order
- We engineered three SARS-CoV-2 viruses containing key spike mutations from the newly emerged United Kingdom (UK) and South African (SA) variants: N501Y from UK and SA; 69/70-deletion+N501Y+D614G from UK; and E484K+N501Y+D614G from SA. Neutralization geometric mean titers (GMTs) of twenty BTN162b2 vaccine-elicited human sera against the three mutant viruses were 0.81- to 1.46-fold of the GMTs against parental virus, indicating small effects of these mutations on neutralization by sera elicited by two BNT162b2 doses.
- Funding from American Rescue Plan will help CDC and Governors monitor, track, and defeat emerging variants that are currently threatening pockets of the country
- We have no alternative but to impose some fairly heavy and immediate restrictions
- South Australia state Premier Steven Marshall South Australia enters week-long lockdown to contain COVID-19 Delta variant spread (July 23, 2021)
- RNA viruses like the coronavirus can mutate when they replicate, especially when circulating at high rates.
- Dr. Monica Gandhi, "Omicron and other coronavirus variants: What you need to know", News-Medical.net, (Nov. 30, 2021)
- We are looking at the degree of virulence this (Omicron) strain has, we are seeing if the vaccines with which we immunize the population would be working for this strain. Everything says they do.
- Luis Lacalle Pou (2021) cited in: "Uruguay's strategy against Omicron is to just be alert, President says" in MercoPress, 30 November 2021.
- Gauteng was absolutely clobbered by the Delta wave only five months ago, so there’s no doubt that this variant is causing significant numbers of reinfections, due to that fact alone.
- Kristian Andersen, "Omicron Variant Spreading Twice as Quickly as Delta in South Africa", New York Times, (Dec. 3, 2021)
- I look at this through a lens of evolution. Early on in the pandemic, I anticipated this would go at least 18 months. That was because the only real perspective I had to understand what this coronavirus might look like was previous influenza pandemics. And I think that many of us assumed that at some point it would become a seasonal infection like influenza after two years or so.
I got a rude awaking earlier this year in March and April when I saw the new Alpha variant emerge as well as the Beta and Gamma variants, and I had a sense that this was going to change how the pandemic would unfold. As a result, I thought that some of the darkest days of the pandemic would be ahead of us and that was at a time in the spring when case numbers were dropping markedly in the United States and vaccine was flowing. But I realized that variants were like 210-mile-an-hour curveballs, and we couldn't predict if they might have increased transmissibility or the ability to cause severe illness. This conclusion was not popular among many of my colleagues and policy makers.
- Michael Osterholm as quoted by Peter Bergen in “The infectious disease expert who warned us 800,000 Americans would die of Covid-19”, CNN, (Dec. 11, 2021)
- And so the message remains clear. If you are unvaccinated get vaccinated, and particularly in the arena of omicron if you are fully vaccinated, get your booster shot
- Fauci Does the COVID-19 booster shot stop omicron? Here’s what a new study says (Dec 17, 2021, 3:30pm MST)
- [other countries had seen omicron’s fast growth, but the U.S. data showed] a remarkable jump in such a short time
- [it’s unclear how much milder omicron really is compared with other variants]. That’s the big uncertainty now
- Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute Omicron sweeps across nation, now 73% of new US COVID cases (December 20, 2021)
- We've seen numbers go up, we've seen hospitalizations in kids go up
- What we are seeing is that children under five remain unvaccinated so there's still a relatively large population of children who are naive, so they have no preexisting immunity to this virus
- Dr. Jennifer Nayak, an infectious disease expert and pediatrician at the University of Rochester Medical Center COVID-19 hospitalization surge among U.S. children spurs new Omicron concerns (December 30, 2021)
- Let’s face the facts: Omicron is no big deal. The media, always desperate to panic gullible souls and spread fear, began the countdown to Armageddon and it’s still counting. Actually, Omicron deftly evades antibodies, which are part of the body’s first defenders, but that is Omicron’s only strength. Ironically, those who have been vaccinated, as I have, are more prone to an Omicron attack. Vaccine-induced antibodies perform much worse against Omicron than against other variants. But it’s no big deal. Boosters lessen these infections. I’m 85, and I drink and smoke and stay up late, yet after three days I was once again training and carousing, although I did feel rather funny when starting up again.
- Taki, Omichronicle, Taki's Magazine, 8 January 2022
- China has a population that’s very vulnerable to this new variant. This is a much more contagious variant, it’s going to be harder to control, and they don’t have a population that has natural immunity
- Scientists from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), along with national and international experts, are actively monitoring and evaluating this recombinant sub-lineage and the associated studies
- [The agency is looking at signs that] XE changes disease severity, transmissibility or impacts the effectiveness of diagnostic tests, vaccines or treatments for COVID-19
- PHAC spokesperson 6 cases of COVID-19 XE have been reported in Canada (April 7, 2022)
- Since Omicron surged again in April, almost five times as many vaccinated people have been hospitalized.
- What is particularly troubling about the newest Omicron wave - not just in the United States but worldwide - is that it appears to hitting highly vaccinated states and countries much more heavily than less vaccinated areas.
- [T]he death gap between the pro-Trump and pro-Biden counties did shrink slightly over the winter from 2.73 to 2.26.
That likely was mostly down to the Omicron variant, according to William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University. Hanage says that Omicron is much more effective at evading masks and other measures to prevent infection. "Before Omicron, actions that people were taking, like masks in schools, would have a really significant impact," he says. "After Omicron they have far less."
- William Hanage as quoted by Daniel Wood, Geoff Brumfiel, “Pro-Trump counties continue to suffer far higher COVID death tolls”, Untangling Disinformation, NPR, (May 19, 2022)
- "During this Omicron wave, we're seeing an increased number of mild infections — at-home type of infections, the inconvenient, having a cold, being off work, not great but not the end of the world. And that's because these Omicron variants are able to break through antibody protection and cause these mild infections," John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, told CBS News.
- John Moore as quoted by Alexander Tin, “Why boosted Americans seem to be getting more COVID-19 infections”, CBS News, (June 2, 2022)
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