Iand you can name Variants of the Corona virus currently circulating Without researching it, your memory is better than most people – even those who are still paying attention to COVID-19.
Currently, the top five variants in the United States are called BA.5 (constituting about 39% of new cases for each Latest data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), BQ.1 (approximately 19%), BQ.1 (16.5%), BA.4.6 (9.5%), BF.7 (9%). while, XBB متغير variant Detected in at least 35 countries, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control watching a variable It is called B.1.1.529.
This alphabet soup designation seems like a notable departure from the Greek letter system of the World Health Organization (WHO), which was Founded in May 2021 To give people an easy, location-neutral way to refer to new variables. While the Greek letter system, which yielded names such as Alpha, Beta, and Delta, did not replace existing scientific naming systems – such as those responsible for designations such as BA.5 and XBB – it was intended to simplify public communication about important viral strains.
The WHO assigns a new Greek letter to a variable if it is significantly different from previous versions. And last year, we’ve seen flavor after flavor of Omicron, rather than entirely new iterations of the virus, explains Maria van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19. That’s why we Not yet infected with a strain called Pi.
Dr. Peter Hotez, co-director of the Vaccine Development Center at Texas Children’s Hospital, calls the newer strains “scrabble variants,” because many of them have high-score Scrabble letters like Q and X. And, he adds, because they “kind of scribble your mind.”
“I am a scientist who has developed vaccines against the coronavirus over the past decade, and it is even challenging for people like me” to follow them, Hotez says. It’s not just hard to remember them. Names are enough to make the average person’s eyes shine – which isn’t cool, considering that He pulled a lot of audience already epidemic.
However, Van Kerkhove argues that the audience probably does not need to know all the nitty-gritty of BQ.1 vs. BQ.1.1 vs. BF.7. “What the general public really needs to know is, what does that mean to me in terms of risk? We will give new names using Greek letters when these variants are significantly different from each other” in terms of severity, immune evasion, or transmission, she says.
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But some experts say the different names have real-world implications for ordinary people. Hotez refers to the new Bivalent enhancers, which was formulated to target the BA.4 and BA.5 variants. BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 are descendants of BA.5, so perhaps the vaccines also provide some measure of protection against them, and this knowledge may provide additional motivation for obtaining the new shots. Hotez says, but, in part because of their names, the average person probably wouldn’t know that BQ.1 is related to BA.5.
T.Ryan Gregory, professor of integrative biology at Canada’s University of Guelph, says the alphabet soup names are important to scientists, because they convey information about how the virus evolved. But he believes that there should also be common names that the general public can use, just as there are scientific and common names for animal species. It’s even Promoter nicknames (unofficial) For recent variants, call BQ.1.1 “Cerberus”, BQ.1 “Typhon” and XBB “Gryphon”.
If all the variables begin to fuse together in the public consciousness, people may not register the emergence of new strains that they might be able to evade. Immunity they have acquired from previous vaccinations or infectionsGregory says. A clear understanding of circulating variables can also be important in healthcare settings, since some Monoclonal antibody treatments don’t work well Against some variables, he adds.
Van Kerkhove says the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on the Evolution of SARS-CoV-2 is working on a “more robust” way to assess when a variant should get a new name, with a particular focus on immune evasion. The jump from Delta to Omicron was so exciting, Van Kerkhove says, that it was an easy call to give Omicron a new name. But now that the virus has mutated in more subtle ways, the decision is more complex. In late October, the advisory group voted against Assign new designations to XBB and BQ.1 as they do not differ sufficiently from previous forms of Omicron.
For variants that don’t meet the WHO’s threshold for a new Greek letter, the agency could at least use a more understandable naming system, Hotez suggests – perhaps starting with Omicron, then moving on to Omicron 1, Omicron 2, etc. . The World Health Organization has discussed doing this, Van Kerkhove says, but even this system comes with problems. She says there are about 300 sub-lines of Omicron currently under watch, and “Omicron 300 feels like a movie franchise.”
Gregory says the audience probably doesn’t need to know and discuss all of these variables. But for strains that circulate widely and account for a large part of the infection, it’s worth getting names that are easy to understand.
Right now, most people feel either, “Wow, this is alphabet soup, and I can’t keep track of that,” or “Well, everything is omicron,” so it doesn’t matter when there’s a new variant, Gregory says. What the audience’s missing—and what They need, he says – is a common vocabulary that will help everyone understand the pandemic as it continues to evolve.
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