|Year : 2020 | Volume
| Issue : 3 | Page : 89-90
Mutant coronaviruses and pediatric COVID
Vijay Nathuram Kamale
Department of Pediatrics, MGM Medical College, Kamothe, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Submission||16-May-2021|
|Date of Decision||24-May-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||31-May-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||30-Jun-2021|
Dr. Vijay Nathuram Kamale
Department of Pediatrics, MGM Medical College, Sector 1, Kamothe, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Kamale VN. Mutant coronaviruses and pediatric COVID. J Pediatr Assoc India 2020;9:89-90
| Introduction|| |
RNA viruses such as the coronavirus are known to evolve and change gradually or faster way. Variants of viruses occur when there is a change or mutation to the virus's genes. In the case of coronavirus, it is seen that there are genetically distinct variants depending on the geography and genetics of host population.
Nowadays, multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus are seen which are different from the version first detected in Wuhan, China. These are B.1.1.7, which were detected in southeastern England in September 2020. Other variants have emerged in Brazil, California, and other areas. A variant called B.1.351, which first appeared in South Africa, may have the ability to re-infect people who have recovered from earlier versions of the coronavirus. New variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are detected every week. In India, B.1.617 is the variant seen nowadays.
Vaccine immunity is theoretically developed by one or two mechanisms but in practice has widespread action on various components of immune systems. The immune response involves many components, and a reduction in one does not mean that the vaccines will not offer protection. Mutations every year for the flu virus are known and accepted the world over, so we have to keep an eye on this coronavirus and track it over a period. As long as the coronavirus spreads through the population, mutations will continue to happen.
If there happens to be a major mutation, the vaccine development process can accommodate changes, if necessary.
| New Coronavirus Variants|| |
Scientists noticed a surge of cases in areas where the new strain appeared, including Europe, Brazil, and possibly now in India. Some new strains are stickier due to changes in spike proteins. These proteins help the virus attach to human cells in the nose, lungs, and other areas of the body.
Some of these mutations may enable the coronavirus to spread faster from person to person, and more infections can result in more people getting very sick or dying. Now, there is preliminary evidence from Britain that some variants could be associated with more severe diseases. Therefore, it is very important for us to expand the number of genetic sequencing studies to keep track of these variants. India, although late, has formed a consortium of various laboratories to track genetic sequencing.
Mutation is a double-edged sword. If the virus has become deadly, it will not spread fast as most of the affected population will die soon. On the other hand, it is not capable of causing severe diseases, it will stay in the population for a longer time and mutate. Another characteristic is related to the speed of spread of the virus, and it is obvious that more infections from a faster-spreading variant will lead to more deaths.
| Pediatric COVID and New Strains|| |
Experts in areas where the new strain is appearing have found an increased number of cases in children. However, it is seen that both new and old viruses are infecting children. There is no convincing evidence that any of the variants have a special propensity to infect or cause disease in children. We need to be vigilant in monitoring such shifts, but we can only speculate at this point.
Most of the viruses come and go. Some mutant may persist, some may become more common mild variety of disease, and few may burn out. When a change in the infection pattern first surges, it is very difficult to predict what will be the clinical scenario. The situation will be based on changes in the virus, or changes in human behavior.
| COVID-19 Precautions for The New Coronavirus Mutations|| |
At present, it is suggested that there is no need to change any prevention strategies. These new variants are biologically not different in ways that would require any change in current recommendations meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, we need to remain vigilant and lockdown in the last resort which may be taken in case a significant number of the population are not following routine preventive strategies.
Variants of interest” and “Variants of concern” like the current delta strain are bound to keep changing. Human behavior is quite important during an epidemic. The more people who are infected, the more chances there are for a mutation to occur. That is why there is a need of limiting the spread of the virus through maintaining COVID-19 safeguards (mask wearing, physical distancing, and practicing hand hygiene). This will give the virus fewer chances to change. It will also reduce the spread of more infectious variants if they do occur.
Good ventilation indoors and limiting gatherings of people in close proximity with poor ventilation have become a priority in India especially rural areas. We give the virus an advantage to evolve when we congregate in more confined spaces. The children then become super-spreaders in such situations. They become infected and have mild disease but may present later on in multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC).
The vaccination of children is not near possibility, so preventing infections in children by early detection in adults and vaccinating the majority population is the only way to prevent the menace of childhood COVID and MISC.