New Variants of Covid-19

By: Justin Boder

COVID-19 was introduced to the world on December 31, 2019 and to this day it has impacted millions of lives (as we are all well aware). COVID-19, scientifically known as SARS-COV-2, is a respiratory illness which causes loss of taste and smell, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and a variety of other symptoms. Unfortunately, the virus has claimed 3 million lives and infected another 140 million worldwide. Recently, doctors and researchers have developed four different types of vaccines. The four types of vaccines are Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer, and the latter vaccine is 95% effective in suppressing the coronavirus (thankfully)

        Last December, it was announced that new variants of COVID-19 are spreading in different parts of the world and since then, many other variants have been discovered and still being investigated.“Geographic separation tends to result in genetically distinct variants,” said Dr. Stuart Ray, Professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Ray’s quote proves that viruses mutate and evolve. A common example of a virus mutating is the flu, which is why people are recommended to get a booster shot every year. Dr. Ray added, “We are seeing multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that are different from the version first detected in China.”. A new variant called B.1.1.7 was discovered in England in September and there are known to be about 17 genetic changes in the variant.  The variant, which spread to Brazil, California, and many other places, was cause for great concern among doctors, researchers and civilians alike. A second variant called B.1.351,which came from South Africa, can re-infect people who already have the antibodies. A common (and plausible) question among worried individuals is “are these new variants more dangerous?”. To answer this, doctors have discovered that these variants can spread faster from person to person causing more people to get infected which leads to more casualties.         Many people are inquiring if the vaccines could fight the new COVID strains. This question has not been answered with full certainty, but experts are saying that the vaccine could be less effective against some of the new strains. However, this does not mean a vaccine won’t offer any protection. Although the coronavirus has devastated the world for a year and change, our doctors and experts are still risking their lives to try to save millions of lives and they are succeeding by creating vaccines. Right now, more than half of the US population has at least one vaccine, and vaccines are being administered every minute. So there is light at the end of the tunnel after all, even in the midst of new variants coming and going.

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