What to Know about Mutations and Covid Variants
Every time a new variant of Covid-19 is discovered it can be very alarming and raise serious questions.
Is this strain more deadly? Will the vaccine still work with this new strain? Is this strain more contagious? Does it have different symptoms?
Let’s dive in and answer some of these questions in general, and specifically about the highly publicized strain of the virus that originated in the UK and has now been found in the US.
What are mutations in viruses?
Viruses are constantly changing and mutating, just like every other living thing. It’s a natural process. In the case of viruses, sometimes they mutate into more dangerous strains, but often they mutate into less dangerous strains.
Just because new virus strains appear doesn’t mean that they are worse, or more deadly.
So what should I pay attention to when new viruses appear?
Doctors and disease experts are laser focused when it comes to new strains, because new strains can and do affect virus behavior.
But for the rest of us, there’s two major things we should pay attention to any time a new strain appears. One, is this new strain more contagious? And two, is this new strain more deadly? It’s important to make clear that those are two different things. Sometimes a virus mutates into a new strain that is more transmissible, but LESS dangerous as far as symptoms are concerned.
Just because a new strain is more contagious doesn’t mean it’s more dangerous.
And just because a new stain becomes prevalent doesn’t mean that approved treatments or vaccines for the original strains won’t work on the new strain.
What about this new UK strain?
Here’s our founder Dr. Juan talking about the new UK strain of Covid-19.
As Dr. Juan says in the video, the data shows that this new strain is more contagious than earlier strains, up to 70% more transmissible according to Dr. Erik Volz from University College, London.
But data so far hasn’t shown that the new strain delivers more serious symptoms, or even different symptoms, than previous strains. And the CDC still expects all the approved vaccines to work against this strain. Studies are still ongoing, however.
So what can I do?
Because this new strain is more infectious, it’s more important than ever to wear a mask and socially distance. Hospitals are inundated with Covid-19 patients, and a new, more infectious strain, while not more dangerous on a case-by-case basis, can put deadly strain on a health system by sheer number of infections and hospitalizations alone.
As Dr. Juan always says, “Ojo”. The best way to do your part is to keep your eye on the data, on the science. Stay informed, and stay behind a mask whenever possible. That will help keep you and those you love as safe as possible no matter what strains of Covid-19 are active in your area.
Let’s stay healthy together.
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