With the recent reports of people getting infected with the Alpha and Delta variants of COVID-19 and the anticipation of the third wave, anxiety is at an all-time high.
Dr Sanjith Saseedharan, consultant and head of critical care, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim – A Fortis Associate says that being infected with the dual variants may not be associated with severe illness. He says, "But a lot of evidence still needs to be gathered – it is understood that infections with multiple strains are possible. However, its impact and its relation to mortality are still unknown, as cases are far too few to make robust conclusions. This has also raised questions about how these viruses may interact in an infected person, and what it could mean for generating new variants. However, a majority of dual infections around the world have been noticed in individuals who were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated."
Despite the lack of evidence, it can be said that multiple strain infections are a reality especially for people who are not vaccinated. Case in point, the Delta and Alpha variant is quite prevalent in the United Kingdom but such instances of multiple strain infections are not found. This is also because the maximum of their population is vaccinated, and so the chances of reinfections or severe infections become less.
However, in India, not even 40 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated which can be a cause of concern. Dr Saseedharan adds, "Researchers say that reinfection and multiple infections are possible and that people must continue to follow guidelines, whether they have had antibodies or not. Moreover, people who have already had COVID-19 should still take the vaccine when their turn comes. Vaccination is key to build an adequate and appropriate defence against COVID-19. But along with this, following COVID-19 norms is equally important."
The risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus is higher in crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces. There is a high likelihood of the virus to spread through respiratory droplets or aerosols in these environments. So, make sure to ventilate the room and keep indoor meetings short to prevent the spread of this virus. Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor ones, particularly if indoor spaces are small and without good ventilation.
Follow these rules to safeguard yourself:
Wear a face mask, as advised
Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and others
Avoid large gatherings
While socializing with family and friends, maintain social distancing
Get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible
Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with soap & water
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze
Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently especially those which are regularly touched, such as door handles, faucets and phone screens
Above all, try and have a healthy lifestyle - eat right, eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep well, and stay protected.