We have already discussed the BA.1 and BA.2 new coronaviruswhich emerged from micron. This viral multiplication dance around the world has given rise to two new “pets”, which bring together parts of different variants: the Deltacronthe merger between Delta and Ômicron and, more recently, the X AND, mix of BA.1 and BA.2.
They are considered variants. recombinants. In other words, they result from the co-infection of two subtypes of the virus in a single person. Inside human cells, they perform this fusion.
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Remember that the virus only has the ability to create a mutation when it infects someone’s body. When it enters cells, it uses the structures there to create copies of itself. With each copy, an error can occur in the genetic material, a mutation.
By accumulating multiple errors and passing these mutations on to subsequent copies, a variant emerges. In the case of Deltacron and XE, what happened was a combination of two types infecting the same cells.
“Recombining may or may not be an evolutionary leap. While a common variant is made up of pieces of an original virus, the recombinant is a splicing of whole genomes. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into such a big payoff for the virus, because it can take on characteristics that together don’t give it as much strength,” says virologist Fernando Spilki, a professor at the University. Feevale University.
It’s not unique to the coronavirus. Other pathogens, such as HIV It’s the flualso have this ability.
How worrying is this recombinant virus?
THE Deltacron, the first recombinant mutant, has worried specialists because it associates Delta, which has caused more serious cases, with Ômicron, which is more transmissible. But so far it has not gained traction in the world. Only more isolated cases have been reported.
On the other hand, XE has a strong connection with BA.2, which is growing exponentially in Europe and the United States. “Like XE has many more features than BA.2prevailing in these places, it is important that these regions are also recombinant-conscious,” says Almeida.
And for that same reason, it remains on the list of concerns of the World Health Organization (WHO). The British health agency (UK Health Security Agency) published the latest report on XE at the end of March. It was discovered in the UK in January and cases of the recombinant there have only increased since then.
The document informs that the concern must come of those who have not yet been vaccinated, and that the new variant is not expected to cause serious cases or hospitalizations in protected individuals. But, of course, getting infected is never a good idea. Even mild cases have been reported with the syndrome of post covid.
There is still no information about the change of symptoms – which remains similar to Ômicron: cough, sore throat, runny nose, feveraches.
already there Brazil, as BA.1 prevailed, in theory, XE is less likely to gain traction – but, of course, nothing is certain in the world of viruses. According to data from the Fiocruz Genomics Network, this strain is still in evidence.
In March, 436 Covid-19 tests were genetically sequenced, and only 0.3% came from BA.2. Over 80% of the samples were from BA.1 and approximately 17% could not be identified.
How do we protect ourselves?
Caution is advised: wear masks, especially in high-risk environments, avoid crowded areas, and constantly sanitize your hands. Moreover, it is necessary test and isolate if respiratory symptoms are present.
Do sequencing of positive exams and track the number of cases helps prepare the healthcare system for new variants. “The real concern comes when the transmission rate of the virus, the RT, exceeds 1 point,” warns Almeida. If the number exceeds this, it means that an infected person can transmit the virus to more than one person.
The website Covid-19 Analytics, maintained by professors at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) indicates a current transmission rate of 0.7 in Brazil. In the account, 100 infected would infect 70 other people, indicating a tendency to reduce the circulation of the virus.
XE is slightly more transmissible than its parent viruses (about 10%), but there is no information indicating that it is able to evade vaccines more easily. To stay protected, all you have to do is make the injections at the right time. The problem is that Brazil is still in its infancy to put the third dose per day.