A year and a half after the Coronavirus pandemic wrecked our collective lives, our society has been grappling with fear and insecurity. As a result, we have seen misinformation spread like wildfire, and many resorting to bizarre and incorrect methods of dealing with the virus. With this column, which will be published every Sunday, we aim to address any health or vaccine-related question our readers might have about the coronavirus pandemic.

In this week’s column, Dr Pradip Kumar Bhattacharya, Professor & HOD Critical Care Medicine Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi talks about the Mu variant, and discusses why people are getting infected despited being ‘fully vaccinated’.

Has cases requiring critical medical care reduced in the past few months? What kind of COVID cases in terms of severity is being seen nowadays?

Yes, there are very few critical cases currently. Most fresh cases are of mild to moderate severity.

Many cases are being reported in fully vaccinated people. Why is that the case? What factors increase the risk of getting infected even after vaccination?

The term ‘full vaccination’ is not defined until now. Currently, what we consider ‘full vaccination’ in terms of the COVID vaccine is basically two doses of the vaccine. Even after two doses you have got 25 percent chance of acquiring infection if you are not cautious and don’t follow preventive measures like mask-wearing and social distancing.

What is the Mu mutant? Is it deadlier than Delta?

WHO has defined two types of variants of SARS COV 2 – First is “Variants of Concern” means they have been found to cause severe infections in human and we need to be very cautious about these variants, they are – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. Then there are “Variants of Interest”, which means they are under observation by scientists and their virulence is yet to be decided. These variants include – Eta, Lotta, Kappa, Lambda, and Mu. So, Mu is a variant of Interest.

Cases have spiked up in several states already. How close are we to the third wave and how deadly will this wave be?

The severity of the third wave would completely depend on three things- vaccination, social distancing, mask-wearing, and other preventive measures described by govt.

Many treatments/medicines that we had seen being used on COVID patients in the initial stages of the pandemic have become redundant now. What are the newest techniques/approaches being used to treat people in critical care due to COVID?

Some of the new treatments available for the Covid-19 patients including monoclonal antibody, interferon, 2-deoxy-D-glucose, etc. But nothing is full proof and all these treatments have their limitations too.

Have people with long COVID faced such severe symptoms that they had to be admitted to the ICU?

Ten percent of people suffer from severe Covid-19 infection and some of them require ICU care for a longer duration. Most of these patients are those who suffer lung damage due to Covid.

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