Ano ang Delta Variant? Know the Different Variants of COVID-19 from Alpha to Lambda

    Ano ang Delta Variant? Know the Different Variants of COVID-19 from Alpha to Lambda

    The coronavirus is constantly changing due to mutations. If a virus has one or more new mutations, it is called a variant of the original virus. Currently, several variants of the virus that cause the coronavirus disease (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2) are causing concern all over the world, in particular the Delta COVID-19 variant.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) uses Greek letters to name the most important variants of COVID-19. This system makes things easier to understand and helps prevent false alarms. It also helps remove the stigmatizing and discriminating labels that people use when referencing variants based on their origin.

    Apart from the WHO Clasification of COVID-19 variants, the US also uses the SARS-CoV-2 Interagency Group (SIG) Classification. The terms used are Variants Being Monitored (VBM), Variants of Interest (VOI), Variants of Concern (VOC), and Variants of High Consequence (VOHC).

    Major Variants You Should Know About

    Delta COVID-19 Variant

    This variant is currently the most common COVID-19 variant in the United States. It is almost twice as contagious as the previous variants and can cause more serious illness. The greatest risk of infection is among unvaccinated people. However, a person who is completely vaccinated can still be exposed to breakthrough infections with symptoms and transmit the disease to others. This variant can also reduce the efficacy of some antibodies produced by the COVID-19 vaccine.

    According to experts, certain strains of the Delta mutant (a variant of the more contagious mutant) are responsible for the recent increase in cases in the United Kingdom.

    This strain, also known as B.1.617.2, is currently the predominant strain in the United Kingdom and the WHO calls it a “variant of concern.” Experts believe that it is up to 60% more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19.

    Investigations are underway, but early data suggests that this particular COVID-19 variant may be one of the factors behind the significant increase in cases of COVID-19 and the subsequent deaths in India in the spring.

    Microbiologist and pathologist Daniel Rhoads, MD, of Cleveland Clinic says, “As of August 2021, the Delta variant has become the predominant lineage of SARS-CoV-2 circulating across the U.S. It has caused substantial morbidity. For example, COVID-related hospitalizations in Florida have surpassed previous records due to the delta wave.”

    Alpha COVID-19 Variant

    This variant has an approximately 50% increase in infection and appears to spread more easily compared to previous circulating variants. This variant may also have an increased risk of hospitalization and death.

    Gamma COVID-19 Variant

    This COVID-19 variant reduces the efficacy of some antibodies produced by previous COVID-19 infections or COVID-19 vaccines.

    Beta COVID-19 Variant

    This variant appears to spread more easily, with approximately 50% increased transmission compared to previous distribution variants. It also reduces the efficacy of some antibodies produced by previous COVID-19 infections or COVID-19 vaccines.

    Other COVID-19 Variants of Interest

    Since the advent of Delta, COVID-19 variants have evolved and continued to spread. The World Health Organization has identified the Eta, Iota, Kappa, and Lambda variants as “variants of interest” and tracked 13 additional variants that occurred in the United States, Brazil, the Philippines, Indonesia, Colombia, and other countries. Recent studies have shown that Lambda variants infect more than 80% of Peru’s population, suggesting that they may have a greater ability to infect and avoid immunity.

    However, there are still many unclear points regarding Lambda variants. Dr. Rhoads says the variant is on the radar, but it’s too early to determine its impact. Fortunately, a new vaccine strategy to produce vaccines with multiple immunogenicity is underway. These vaccines will use a wide variety of vaccines containing antigen-coated nanoparticles to provide a high level of diverse antibody response. It brings new hope for the prevention and control of SARS-CoV-2 in the future.

    Will there be more new COVID-19 variants? Experts say that mutations will still occur as long as the coronavirus spreads throughout the population.

    Does the Vaccine Protect Against Variants?

    Ultimately, the changing nature of the coronavirus (and all viruses) is something that experts around the world are watching carefully. The spread of new variants is enough reason to be even more cautious. Only half of American adults are fully vaccinated. In many countries, such as the Philippines, that number remains less than 50%.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, the various COVID-19 vaccines available are highly effective in fighting off the Delta variant. Breakthrough infections may still occur, but very few cases lead to serious illness, hospitalization, or death among those who are vaccinated.

    Learn more about Coronavirus here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Janie-Vi Villamor Ismael-Gorospe, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Fred Layno · Updated Apr 21, 2022