What threat do new Covid-19 mutations pose?

What threat do new Covid-19 mutations pose?
Credit: Belga.

With a summer Covid-19 wave supposedly on the way, virologists told Le Soir what the Belgian population can expect from this latest threat to public health, as well as its origin.

A new mutation wave

As seen in both Portugal and South Africa, this latest wave is the result of the virus’s BA.2 form mutating into the BA.4 and BA.5 variants.

The pathology of these variants appeared to be connected with increased transmissibility and resistance to immune defences.

They are also reported to be more resistant to the protection afforded by vaccination than the BA.1 and 2 variants. Furthermore, researchers have demonstrated that a previous infection with the BA.1 variant does not guarantee protection against reinfection from these new mutations.

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Nonetheless, the general consensus is that the newest variants will not be a great strain on Belgian health services, with one having to go back to September 2020 to find a Covid-19 occupancy level of Belgian intensive care units as low as the current figure of 47.

The virologists also told Le Soir that South Africa and Portugal did not suffer a wave induced by the BA.2 variant. When this variant passed through Belgium, it only had a minimal impact on Belgian ICUs.

“If these new siblings aren’t too dissimilar,” Emmanuel Andre said, “there is no need to be concerned about a more catastrophic scenario this time around.”

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