—WHAT IS A VARIANT?
—WHAT IS SPIKE PROTEIN?
—MUTATION IN SPIKE PROTEIN — LEADS TO THE FORMATION OF CORONAVIRUS BA.3 PROTEIN.
—SEVERITY OF CORONAVIRUS BA.3
—SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS BA.3
—TREATMEMT FOR CPRONAVIRUS BA.3
Coronavirus disease 2019- It had begun here, but it did not end yet. The entire world has glued its eyes to see a COVID-free day. But the question is, what made the virus survive for so long and is continuing to.
We make vaccines to eradicate one, while the other appears. We make vaccines to eradicate the other, while another appears.
Yes, coronavirus continues to reappear again and again, but in a new form every single time — it is called a “Variant.”
WHAT IS A VARIANT?
A virus is very small and simple in structure. But like they say, great things come in small packets. It was indeed a big beast. Because of their small size and simple structure, they couldn’t necessarily replicate and reproduce by themselves in free nature. That is when they met a man (host).
The virus enters the host body, specifically into their cells. The most common function of a cell is to replicate using a particular system of replication. But, when the virus enters this cell, it uses the replication system of the cell and starts making copies of its own genetic material— here the genetic material is RNA and not DNA since coronavirus uses RNA to store its genetic information which is responsible for causing such a disease.
During replication, RNA is copied in order to transfer it into the new virus formed. But, the problem here is a — MISTAKE.
The cell has the most probability to commit a mistake like this, especially in the case of RNA where it tends to misplace the genetic sequence of nucleotides in the RNA that codes for specific proteins, such a change in genetic sequence is called— MUTATION.
—Mutation at times entirely changes the functioning of a gene from its initial function. This change can be really harmful as it might increase the disease-causing ability and severity of the disease.
—But at the same time, it might also decrease the severity of the virus.
—And sometimes it may just have no effect on the virus at all.
Any of such mutated gene was called the — VARIANT.
Not just once, but mutations occur a number of times to form a number of variants.
Likewise, when Coronavirus started its journey at Wuhan, China, it was just one, but as it made its way through Japan, Korea, Singapore, Australia, and so on till it spread to every nook and corner of the world, it obviously encountered many people (host) and many mutations occurred, but not all are spoken about.
Only, the virus that underwent mutation to form another pathogenic variant is considered, since they are the ones that require a new set of studies and new kinds of treatment.
Because they have mildly differing symptoms from one variant to the other.
One such variant is the — CORONAVIRUS BA.3
- Delta variant
- Omicron variant
There are many more variants of CORONAVIRUS that appeared in the world.
Omicron has three sub-variants—
- Corona virus BA.1
- Corona virus BA.2
- Corona virus BA.3
Coronavirus BA.1 and BA.2 variants had undergone a different set of mutations. But, they mostly have similar symptoms.
Coronavirus BA.3 is a culmination of mutations that occurred in BA.1 and BA.2 and has no specific mutation of its own.
In this process, BA.3 variant comparatively had 6 mutations less than that in BA.1, which is why it is less pathogenic and does not spread rapidly.
The coronavirus BA.3 is caused mainly due to mutation in SPIKE PROTEIN.
WHAT IS SPIKE PROTEIN?
As mentioned earlier, a virus cannot replicate and reproduce on its own. It requires a host to do this where it replicates its RNA and reproduces a number of viruses that infect the cells, surrounding cells, people, community, and the world itself.
For this to happen, firstly the virus should enter the host cell and it is definitely not an easy job.
Do you know why?
Well, it is very obvious that any virus that wants to make an entry into the cell should pass through the very first DEFENSE MECHANISM of a cell which is the membrane of the cell called the CELL MEMBRANE.
But because the RNA of the virus is negatively charged (due to the presence of phosphate group on the sugar-phosphate backbone of RNA) and likewise the slimy fatty layer of the cell membrane made up of a phospholipid (fat) is also negatively charged due to the presence of phosphate group, the virus tends to repel and slip away from the cell membrane which makes its entry difficult.
So, What comes to the rescue of this virus?
— It has to be the GLYCOPROTEIN.
— The virus is covered by a sugar (polysaccharide) coat made up of glycoprotein, which is a sugar protein.
— Not just that, but it also helps the virus in getting attached to the cell membrane against the negative – negative repelling action and thereby facilitating its entry into the cell.
— One such type of glycoprotein is called the SPIKE PROTEIN— which is coded by a certain set of genome sequences on the RNA.
MUTATION IN SPIKE PROTEIN— LEADS TO THE FORMATION OF CORONAVIRUS BA.3 VARIANT.
The virus enters the cell and begins to infect the cell, replicate and reproduce new viruses that further infect the surrounding cells and ultimately cause COVID-19 infection that would spread from one person to the other.
Here’s the twist,
What if, during this process, the RNA sequence coding for spike protein is misplaced during replication? — This is what causes —Mutation in spike protein.
But let me tell you, not all mutations are harmful. Some mutations may have no effect on the function of spike protein, some may, in turn, nullify the function of spike protein thereby preventing COVID infection in the person.
While some mutations also cause adverse changes in the functioning of spike protein and tend to increase their range of infection from mild to moderate.
Well, such a mutation is what results in the formation of— Coronavirus BA.3 Variant.
SEVERITY OF CORONAVIRUS BA.3
The severity of the new virus variant is generally said to increase after mutation based on three factors—
1. Based on its resistance to antibodies – If the new genomic sequence formed codes for proteins that make the outer coat of the virus tougher, it becomes more resistant to antibodies. Hence, Severity increases.
2. Nature of Spike protein — If mutation increases the sticky nature of spike proteins, it would in turn facilitate easy attachment of the virus onto the cell membrane, thus increasing the infection and spread of the virus.
3. Host health — A person with good health and a strong immune system has greater chances of recovering soon. While people with poor immune systems would take a little more time for recovery.
Here, in the case of Coronavirus BA.3, the severity is mild since it has less number of mutations in the spike protein when compared to Coronavirus BA.1.
SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS BA.3
1. Sore throat
2. Runny nose
4. Body ache
5. Mild fever
TREATMENT FOR CORONAVIRUS BA.3
It can mostly be treated at home by drinking hot water, taking vapor steam, oral medicines that dismantle the function of glycoproteins and thus eradicate the virus.
Last but not the least, VACCINATION is a must.