Viruses mutate. It happens all the time. The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 has mutated over a thousand times according to some researchers. Should we be concerned?
Latest Mutation in the News
https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-about-the-new-strain-of-covid-19 Over one thousand new cases of COVID-19 have erupted in southern England. Is the new coronavirus mutation responsible? Probably. Is it more deadly? Probably not.
Increased viral infections can be blamed on a mutation as easily as colder weather, people not wearing face masks, not washing their hands, or not remaining at a safe distance from each other, and probably a few more reasons. The variant, or mutation, is a slight change in the genetic structure of the viral molecule. It happens often, much more often than we hear or read about.
Most of the time it is ‘ops normal’ and no changes are made. Something changed in the virus and it did not become more deadly, more serious, or more infectious. Maybe the symptoms might be more on upper respiratory ailments than fatigue and headache. It should not make much of a difference to the vaccines being used to combat it
The two mRNA vaccines are using the genetic structure of the coronavirus spike. The spike is a protrusion on the surface of the virus that looks like a thorn or barb. When the virus contacts a human host cell, the spike grabs ahold of the cell and makes itself a home. Shortly thereafter, viral particles are transmitted from the virus to the host. When we have enough particles in our bodies, we see symptoms.
Some peoples’ immune systems are strong enough to contract the disease and not show any symptoms. These people are classified as asymptomatic. They have the disease, can infect others, and never have any symptoms, and most of the time never knew they had the virus.
Other people with weaker immune systems might not see symptoms for the first week and then have a mild case of the disease. During that first week with no symptoms, they can infect others as if they had symptoms. Another group with maybe a more challenged immune system might get sick right away and require hospitalization. The symptoms can become life-threatening if not treated quickly and properly.
It takes time to fully assess viral changes (transmissibility, lethality, severity, etc.). That is the stage we are at today with the virus in southern England and Colorado. We are waiting to see what pops up. It appears that people are getting infected more quickly. Is it true? We do not know yet.
The Latest Update
https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/30/health/colorado-uk-coronavirus-variant/index.html Two cases of the UK ‘variant’, the latest coronavirus mutation, have been identified northeast of Colorado Springs, CO. Both were part of a National Guard team deployed to England. Local officials in Colorado believe they have the spread contained to a small area at this time.
Another case of this viral variant has been reported in Australia. Many countries have eased their entry requirements. Some are now considering bans or stronger controls over leaving and entering. The United States CDC now requires all passengers from England to have a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours after entry into the US.
Lethality of New Variant
https://khub.net/documents/135939561/338928724/SARS-CoV-2+variant+under+investigation%2C+meeting+minutes.pdf/962e866b-161f-2fd5-1030-32b6ab467896?t=1608470511452 This document highlights the latest thoughts on the mutation and has no definitive conclusion on the virus’ ability to kill people. Four out of a thousand (99.6%) have died with this mutation.
https://www.cnet.com/health/covid-19-vaccine-will-very-likely-work-on-uk-mutation-fauci-says-as-california-reports-case/ The mRNA vaccines target the spike protein that has over 1,000 sequences of proteins. The small amount of structural change to the spike is not enough to invalidate the vaccine’s effectiveness against this variant according to Dr. Fauci when being interviewed yesterday.
Our bodies develop antibodies that recognize, attack, and kill foreign invaders. When new unfamiliar intruders enter our bodies, the immune system takes time to study and then develop a defense. Sometimes, we are fortunate to repel the trespassers before harm can be done. In the process of developing a picture of the interlopers, attack actions are activated. When all is done, the body remembers the gatecrashers and is better prepared the next time.
The vaccines target the spike proteins, and our bodies develop a color Polaroid of the imposter. When seen again, our bodies act more quickly. Vaccines developed for coronavirus have extensive recognition features that minor changes in the spike protein alignment and structure should not be enough to thwart the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Standby for more alarming news as 2021 progresses. We will know soon if the effectiveness of the vaccine remains at or around 95% for this specific variant. Next week’s or next month’s variant is a different animal, but I would expect the same story – wait, let us see, take the same precautions, and wait some more.
We do what we must do to protect ourselves. There is not much more that can be added other than stay at home forever and never leave your home again. Just kidding! House arrests will work, but it does nothing but extend the time the virus is in our neighborhoods.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com