By Liz Valls
Photo by: World Bank Photo Collection
As the New Year begins everyone is hoping that the chaos will come to an end, but it seems to continue as COVID-19 cases continue to surge and because of a new Coronavirus strain found originally in the UK and South Africa. The new variant of the original virus is now known as B.1.1.7 and contains seventeen new mutations, which leads it to be more contagious. Mutations occur when a virus makes an error when trying to make a copy of itself.
Since December, this mutation has been spreading across the UK and impacting even more lives than before. The worst thing about this new strain is that it spreads fast, and has already made its way to the U.S. Although this sounds worse than the original COVID-19 virus, officials say you should focus on following the guidelines that have been put in place for the past months rather than dwell on this new topic. You should be wearing your mask, sanitizing, and social distancing in order to stop the spread.
Even though B.1.1.7 seems to spread a lot quicker, its symptoms aren’t worse. This new strain will lead to a higher death toll only because it is more infectious. This isn’t what we want to hear as ICU bed capacity continues to decay. Researchers have found that it is 56% more transmissible, but with further knowledge soon to come it may be as little as 10-20% more transmissible. As of January seventh, there have been at least fifty cases of this new strain reported in the U.S. The CDC has found fifty two cases in the country with 26 in California, 22 in Florida, 2 in Colorado, and one in New York. All together more than thirty-two countries have claimed to have found the new strain. Scientists have also discovered that children and adults have the same chances of getting or passing the mutant virus from one to another. This is different compared to the original as children are less likely to transmit it.
Britain went on a lockdown with the rest of the UK joining in shortly after. The US and many other countries may be on full lockdown very soon. We still don’t know whether or not the vaccines can protect against the mutants, but experts believe they most likely will work. In the meantime pharmaceutical companies have begun test trials. It is important to focus on containing the original uncontrolled spread as mutants can spark up and create matters worse.