The second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic has stormed the nation hard. There has been a vast difference in the way how SARS-CoV-2 virus has struck in India, last year and this year. This lethal infection still remains relatively new and even vaccines by our side, lakhs of people are getting the infection and suffering from severe aftermaths.
With the high infection rate of the new mutant strains or dearth of people in adapting to COVID-19 protocol, the second wave of infections is graver than the first one. There is a drastic change in symptoms and the way the virus has hit people.
The disturbing factor is, the new strains arising in India are more lethal than the pathogens encountered in the first wave. The ‘variant of concern’, India’s double mutant virus is known to have caused a huge surge in cases across the country. Not only these mutant strains are multiple times more infectious than the original one, but it is also leading to complications, early-stage severity and increased hospitalization risk for even healthy young adults.
With the increasing number of asymptomatic people being hospitalized in the second wave, an interim analysis done by the Indian Council Of Medical Research (ICMR) have disclosed certain difference in symptoms between the first and second .
Medical Oxygen Requirement
The symptoms such as joint ache, fatigue, loss of smell, or sore throat are much less compared to the first wave. But, shortness of breath is much higher in the second wave, which had raised the requirement of supplemental oxygen.
First Wave: Symptoms like dry cough, joint pain, headaches were more common.
Second Wave: Shortness of breath is higher and need for medical oxygen support.
Infection In Young Individuals
The infection rate among people in the age group 30-45 years of age remains the same as last year. There isn’t an increased rate of young people being tested positive reported so far.
First Wave: People under 30 years of age, 31% positive cases.
Second Wave: People under 30 years of age, 32% of positive cases.
A very minimal surge in the number of COVID-19 patients belongs to a younger age. It is stated that 70% were above or equal to 40 years of age.
First Wave: Average age of patients was 50 years.
Second Wave: Average age of patients is 49 years.
The second wave of COVID-19 is less severe than the first wave and there is no major change in the death rate observed.
In the past year, the virus has mutated several times over and there are different unidentified mutations that are cause of concern.
First Wave: Original form of SARS-CoV-2
Second Wave: There is a double mutant, plus the UK, Brazilian, South African variants that have demonstrated to have higher transmissibility.
According to health authorities, the current wave of infections has also picked up a difference in the way symptoms show up.
Let’s read through this article to get an overview of typical symptoms that differentiate the second wave from the first one:
Varied Respiratory Issues:
As per the health care experts, there’s a high possibility of lung involvement observed in the second wave. Where more than 25% cases affected by the new mutant strains are especially amongst the younger age groups now. This is becoming one of the main reasons for increased hospitalization and oxygen support.
The lungs are the main organ damaged in cases of severe COVID-19 infection leading to several respiratory problems including COVID pneumonia, diseased lung progression seen from day 2 or 3 of symptom onset, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), and several other pulmonary complications as well. In addition, it may also lead to breathlessness, chest pain, persistent coughing, and signs of pneumonia all indicating evidence of lung problems.
Severe Dip In Oxygen Levels
In the current wave, there’s a huge demand for supportive oxygen therapy required by coronavirus patients due to a sudden fall in oxygen saturation levels. SPO2 levels below 92% need immediate hospitalization and medical care. Breathing problems at the start of infection can make the patients gasp for air, which decreases oxygen saturation levels and eventually lead to lung damage and in a few cases multiple organ failure as well.
Fever and cough are usually considered the first signs of infection. However, they may not be the only signs of infection to look out for. The mutant strains have the ability to bout the body more intense and lead to a range of symptoms, which can affect a patient much before fever or a cough. Some of the uncommon symptoms observed during the second wave of infections include hearing loss, dry mouth, red bloodshot eyes, skin rashes, and conjunctivitis.
It has been reported that more than 40% of coronavirus cases show digestive symptoms. These symptoms are not only linked with a severe form of COVID infections, but they are also early signs of being affected by the mutant virus in the second wave. The most common GI symptoms reported now include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, metabolic imbalance, difficulty eating, and sudden weight loss.
Moreover, most GI symptoms are often associated with stomach flu, it may be confusing to diagnose initially, which may further contribute to the spreading of infections.
Extreme fatigue could also be a sign of COVId-19 infection that has to be looked out now. Most patients now being tested with coronavirus feel tired and fatigued prior to the onset of symptoms. Lethargy and weakness are common symptoms that strike in the initial days and easily ignored. Generally, fatigue and tiredness could be initial response triggered by the immune system to combat viral load in the body and hang on for long, sometimes even for days or weeks after beating off the infection.