Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination programme has been launched across the world, aiming to achieve herd immunity to prevent the spread of the COVID-19. With the emergence of the ‘double mutant’ coronavirus, the public started doubting the effectiveness of COVID 19 vaccine. In this article, we will discuss in detail if vaccination can bring the double mutant COVID situation under control.
What is a double mutant covid?
A mutation is a change in genetic material. It is a natural process for viruses to survive against our immune system. The most concerning part of mutation in coronavirus is the mutation on the spike protein, which is the protein on the outermost layer of the virus. Spike protein attaches to human cells, enabling viruses to enter and replicate in the human body. It is the primary target for the antibodies produced by the immune system to bind to the virus and neutralize it. With the structure and appearance of the spike proteins changed via mutation, our immune system might fail to recognise it. Thus, the ability of the virus to survive and replicate increases.
Double mutant COVID is a name for the variant B1.617 which first emerged in India towards the end of 2020. In fact, the virus has several mutations, with two concerning mutations on the spike proteins. Thus, this variant is known as double mutant COVID.
It is a highly transmissible virus, which is one of the contributing factors to the recent spikes of cases around the world.
Can the vaccination bring control over the double mutant COVID?
COVID-19 vaccination is an injection which delivers protein similar to the one found on coronavirus to stimulate the immune response of our body. When we encounter the real virus in the future, our body is able to mount an immune response before the virus can cause any serious illnesses or complications due to COVID-19.
Ongoing research has been done to evaluate the effectiveness of vaccines on the double mutant virus. The research involves combining antibodies developed in the human body after vaccination with the double mutant virus. It was found that the antibodies are able to neutralise it although the potency of the antibodies have been reduced. In short, the vaccination is still effective in blocking the double mutant virus.
The double mutant virus confers itself a certain level of resistance over the antibodies produced from vaccination. People with complete doses of vaccination and those with natural immunity after recovering from COVID-19 have been reported with the infection of the double mutant virus. However, most of the cases are mild with no serious complications. It is proven that vaccination is still useful in controlling disease progression.
How to protect yourself from the double mutant virus?
Human behaviour is one of the major factors in the spread of the new double mutant virus. Thus, precautionary measures are important to prevent yourself from contracting the infection.
- Wash your hand with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub regularly.
- Maintain a social distance of 2 meter (6 feets) from others.
- Wear a face mask whenever in public.
- Avoid going to crowded places.
- Cover your mouth with your hand or tissue whenever you cough or sneeze.
While the spread of double mutant virus is worrying, preliminary studies have shown that the vaccine is effective in preventing severe illnesses and risk of death caused by the virus. The public is highly encouraged to enrol in the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme to achieve herd immunity as a society. Herd immunity is the effect when a large proportion of the population has achieved immunity through vaccination which significantly reduces the transmissibility of coronavirus, and at the same time able to protect those who are not vaccinated.