The United Kingdom variant of the virus spreads more quickly. Although this strain caused an additional lockdown, and more cases and deaths, UK is finally starting to reopen as more people get vaccinated and cases start to come down. This variant is in the USA and mutations are always changing so we should remain vigilant even while more and more people get vaccinated.
Below are 5 Things To Know About New Virus Strains.
1. How Are There New Strains?
A new strain of a virus occurs when there is a mutation of the virus genes. It’s in the nature of RNA viruses to gradually change and evolve. This is nothing new when it comes to viruses, but some will mutate faster than others. A good example is the flu virus that often changes so often that professionals recommend that you get a flu shot every year. The new UK strain (B.1.1.7) was first detected in southeastern England in September 2020. Once we got to December, this strain became the most common version of the virus - present in more than 60 percent of all new cases.
2. Are there other new strains of the virus?
There are different strains that have emerged in Brazil, South Africa, even variants in the United States. The South Africa variant (B.1.351) appears to re-infect people who already had the virus. It is also one of the newest variants that appear to be resistant to some of the vaccines already being used. The South African variant is here in the United States but not widespread. It is a very good reason why everyone should continue to get vaccinated to keep these variants from spreading.
3. Are New Strains More Dangerous?
New strains do tend to spread more quickly, but so far it seems most are not likely to cause worse disease or more death compared to the original strain. For a virus to survive it has to constantly evolve. This can work in our favor due to it being able to spread more easily. Unfortunately, the reverse can be likely as well; viruses don’t get the chance to reproduce if they mutate to become deadly. So if someone gets too sick or will, unfortunately, die from a certain virus, then we can’t transmit it.
4. Do Vaccines Work On New Strains?
Fortunately, experts are saying that there isn’t any evidence currently that would suggest that most of the vaccines available wouldn’t work on new strains. This is because of instances like mutations every year from the flu. If there happens to be a major mutation, then the vaccine development process accommodates changes if the need calls for it. Currently, the antibodies that are created by the current vaccines should still work.
5. Are There Extra Precautions For New Strains?
The most successful precaution is definitely the vaccines. It is so important that more people get vaccinated so we can reach herd immunity. Doctors stress that human behavior is important. The reason we need to get at least 70% of the population vaccinated is to keep infection rates down to a minimum. This is because the more infections there are, the more chances for a mutation to occur. We should still remain vigilant and wash our hands more often, and continue to use sanitizer.
While new strains of a deadly virus can be an extremely scary thing, knowing that this is the natural course that viruses take when it comes to mutating makes us feel a little more at ease. As long as we continue to get our population vaccinated, while also staying sanitized, we should be able to keep the new variants under control.
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