With the introduction of an effective vaccine for the coronavirus, many are optimistic that the year-long pandemic is finally coming to a conclusion. As much as that may be true, scientists have uncovered a new strain of COVID, and this most likely will not be the last. The main questions come down to whether or not this new strain is more deadly and if there is a need for another lockdown.
Where Did This New Strain Come From?
The new COVID strain has been identified in at least four U.S states and 33 countries. The variant originated in the United Kingdom and just like the original virus, it has quickly made its way around the globe. As daunting as the new strain may seem, it was certainly expected. All viruses have mutations, and some viruses may mutate more often than others. The flu, for example, goes through changes often, which is ultimately why people are encouraged to get a flu shot once a year.
How Exactly is This Strain Different? Is it More Deadly?
The new strain does have its differences. For starters, it is more contagious. In other words, the new strain is more likely to be spread from person to person, and it is plausible to say that there may certainly be a significant increase in global cases in the near future. According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, early analysis has demonstrated that the new strain could increase the reproductive rate by 0.4 or more and that it is possible that it is up to 70% more contagious than the original variant. As of right now, researchers are currently trying to see if the new structure of the virus has anything to do with its transmission.
Fortunately, there is so far no evidence that this form of the virus is any more deadly than the original. Some of the symptoms are similar to the original strain, while others may be different. Some of these symptoms include fever or chills, shortness of breath, fatigue, body aches, loss of taste/smell, sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea, nausea, and a cough.
Should we be Worried?
So far, there is no clear danger that the new strain imposes that would give us a reason to panic. According to technologyreview.com, the speed at which a virus mutates can strongly influence how effective vaccines are. There is no doubt that the virus has mutated multiple times ever since its introduction, especially given that the South African government announced its discovery of a new strain similar to the one in the United Kingdom. As of right now, the best thing to do to remain safe and protected is following CDC’s guidelines of social distancing and wearing masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
As excited as we all are to transition back to our normal lives, there is no promise that this transition will be happening very soon. As time goes by, there will be new mutations of the virus, and that is simply inevitable. There is currently no evidence suggesting that there is a mutation that is more deadly than the original, so until then, it is best that we continue to follow the guidelines suggested by CDC to keep ourselves and others safe.
“A New Strain of Coronavirus: What You Should Know.” Www.Hopkinsmedicine.org, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/a-new-strain-of-coronavirus-what-you-should-know.
CDC. “COVID-19 and Your Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Feb. 2020, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant.html.
Editor, Robin McKie Science. “What Is the New Covid Strain – and Will Vaccines Work against It?” The Observer, 19 Dec. 2020, www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/19/what-is-the-new-covid-strain-and-will-vaccines-work-against-it. Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.
Klapp, Caroline. “What We Know about the New COVID-19 Strain.” Https://Www.Waff.com, www.waff.com/2021/01/03/what-we-know-about-new-covid-strain/. Accessed 6 Jan. 2021.