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COVID variants could lead to larger, more deadly pandemic, study says

Researchers recently found that variants of concern are more harmful than the original strains of the coronavirus

Students wear mouth-to-nose coverings in Muenster, Germany.
Students wear mouth-to-nose coverings while sitting close to each other during the lecture “BWL 1” in lecture hall H1 of the Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet in Muenster, Germany, on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021. The coronavirus variants are more virulent, dangerous and harmful than the original strain, according to a new study.
Rolf Vennenbernd, dpa via Associated Press

The coronavirus variants are more virulent, dangerous and harmful than the original strain, according to a new study.

The study — published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal — found that variants of concern increase people’s risk for hospitalization, admission to the intensive care unit and death due to the coronavirus.

  • To find this, researchers reviewed more than 200,000 COVID-19 cases reported from Feb. 7 to June 26 of this year in Ontario, Canada, which has about 14.8 million people.
  • The study monitored how the delta variant cases became the dominant strain of the coronavirus in Ontario.

Drs. David Fisman and Ashley Tuite, who work at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, said that the variants disrupted the pandemic in three ways, per SciTechDaily.

  • “The emergence of novel SARS-CoV-2 VOCs (variants of concern) has slowed progress against the pandemic in 3 distinct ways, namely by increasing transmissibility and the virus’ reproduction number, by increasing immune escape and diminishing vaccine effectiveness, and by increasing the virulence of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” they wrote, according to SciTechDaily.

Some other major findings from the study included the fact that younger people were infected with variants more often and the delta variant — over any other variant — increased death, hospitalization and ICU admission risks.

  • “The increasing virulence of SARS-CoV-2 VOCs will lead to a considerably larger, and more deadly, pandemic than would have occurred in the absence of the emergence of VOCs,” wrote the authors, per SciTechDaily.

That said, vaccines have been shown to help combat the COVID-19 variants that have popped up around the world. In fact, a recent study published in the medical journal Immunity found that mRNA vaccines can create memory B cells that help recognize the coronavirus, any mutations and variants.

  • People who got their COVID-19 antibodies from the vaccine and those who got them from natural infected both had “high-affinity response against the wild-type” coronavirus variants and showed “significant neutralization activity and recognition,” News Medical Life Sciences reports.

Experts have been largely felt that the ongoing delta variant surge may be the final wave in the pandemic, assuming a large cOVID-19 variant doesn’t come through in the meantime.