The Epsilon variant, which was earlier identified in California in 2020 has now drifted closer to India and has been located in Pakistan. Having a shared land boundary, it has raised an alarm for New Delhi and other South Asian countries that it could drastically weaken their fight against the COVID-19. According to researchers, this strain is resistant to all vaccines available.
Punjab has been alerted by the authorities due to the recent spike in cases as 5 infections were detected in Lahore.
The cases detected in Pakistan have made the officials issue an alert as it might lead to a fourth wave in Pakistan and also engaging India on its toes, being the core focus for the inception of a dangerous third wave.
About Epsilon Variant
This variant is also known as CAL.20C and is believed to be the most active variant of SARS-CoV-2 in New York and USA. It has five defining variations, including a mutation in spike protein L452R. It has reached S. Asia for the first time, and has shown its presence in 34 different nations apart from the USA.
The Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) had earlier declared it as a ‘Variant of Concern’ but later revised it as ‘Variant of Interest’. USA downgraded it as the existing data then showed that the vaccine and treatments are effective against the new variant. However, the CDC further sounded alarmed and called it as the spread of ‘Chicken pox’ saying it may cause severe diseases than all the other known viruses. The World Health Organisation (WHO) designated it under ‘alerts for further monitoring.’
Epsilon Variant: A Major Concern
It is said by a study conducted at the University of Washington that the variant has a transmissible rate of only 20% as compared to the earlier covid strains. This virus is equated to the delta strain that ravaged India during the second wave and is marked as highly transmissible.
The Epsilon variant could be the cause for the fourth wave of the pandemic in Pakistan, triggering an alarm for India amid predictions of a third wave. On Sunday, Pakistan logged 5,029 Covid-19 cases.
What are its concerning features?
- Vaccine-resistance: According to Pakistani medical experts, the Epsilon strain can completely escape lab-made antibodies and reduce effectiveness of the antibodies generated in the plasma of vaccinated people.
- Transmissible: The variant is also known to be 20% more transmissible than the preceding coronavirus strains.