Despite advances in our fight against the coronavirus with the vaccine, many parts of America and around the world are dealing with record-breaking COVID numbers and hospitalizations. Additionally, news of multiple new COVID-19 variants have been detected and The Doctors break down what is known about the new strains and whether you should be concerned.
So far, variants of the virus have been found in 33 countries and 4 states (Colorado, New York, California, and Florida). The variants identified in the United Kingdom and an additional variant found in South Africa are thought to spread and infect people more easily.
What Is a COVID-19 Virus Variant?
The CDC explains, "Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist."
Is the Variant More Dangerous or Deadlier?
"At this time, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death," the CDC notes.
Will the Variant Change the Effectiveness of the COVID-19 Vaccines?
The CDC currently believes there is no evidence the effectiveness of the vaccine is diminished by the variant, writing, "Most experts believe this is unlikely to occur because of the nature of the immune response to the virus." They go on to note that public health officials are actively studying this.
What Is Still Unknown about the COVID-19 Variant?
The CDC says health officials are conducting further studies to understand the following:
- How widely the new variants have spread
- How the new variants differ from what we already know about the virus
- How the disease caused by these new variants differs from the disease caused by other variants that are currently circulating
- How to better understand why it appears to be spread more easily from person to person
- Does it cause milder or more severe disease in people?
- Can the variants be detected by currently available viral tests?
- Does the variant respond to the medicine currently being used to treat patients for COVID-19?
What Can Be Done to Protect Yourself from the Variant?
Due to the new COVID-19 variants seemingly being more easily transmitted, The Doctors stress that everyone needs to continue practicing safety precautions like wearing a mask, routine hand washing, avoiding crowds when possible, and not socializing in person with people outside of your household.