Are the mutations from the pandemic something to worry about?

We hear about this U.K. viral variant or another South African coronavirus mutation. What variants of COVID-19 are in the United States, and do we have a concern? Are the headlines keeping fear-mongering alive, or do we have a legitimate problem about the virus mutating and rendering the vaccines ineffective?

There are four viral variants currently in the United States that medical authorities are watching closely. The B.1.1.7 (U.K.), B.1.351 (S. Africa) P.I. (Brazil), and the B.1.427/B.1.429 (California) are four mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that concern the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

B.1.1.7 (U.K.) This viral variant spreads 30% to 50% more easily from one infected person to an uninfected person. Additionally, the death rate of B.1.1.7 is 30% to 40% higher. Existing vaccines are effective against this mutation.

B.1.351 (S. Africa) This strain is 50% more contagious than the virus rampaging through the United States for most of 2020. However, no indications suggest it is more deadly. A concern is that a local uprising may overwhelm hospitals and put some patients’ lives in danger because of overcrowding.

A unique feature of B.1.351 is the E484K and K417T locations. These coronavirus spike positions are the primary receptors for viral attachment. Clinical trials showed that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines might have difficulty providing adequate protection against this viral variant. However, real-world vaccination programs appear to hold their own. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines have not had wide enough dispersal to suggest the effect is weakened.

P.I. (Brazil) The P.I. variant is twice as contagious as the original coronavirus. It has the E484K and K417 receptor issues and makes it a bit easier to evade antibody response.

A unique property of this variant is that it has shown the ability to infect people who already had the original strain of coronavirus. Vaccines are less effective in preventing infection from this strain.

B.1.427/B.1.429 (California) This mutation of coronavirus involves two different viral forms, the B.1.427 and the B.1.429. It is also called the CAL.20C. Observations show that this variant spreads about 20% faster than the original coronavirus. Over half the cases in California are of this viral variant.

Vaccines have not been thoroughly tested against this strain of virus, but early studies show that we can expect the COVID-19 vaccines not to be as effective as other strains of the virus.


Other viral variants of interest will be tracked. Not all variants are more dangerous than the original strain. The less contagious and lethal strains are unknown because they are less infectious and deadly, and they do not make good headline news.

Vaccines are working well. When a viral variant is discovered that must be dealt with because it evades the vaccine’s structure of protection, newer vaccines or booster shots can be created.

Over a million people are vaccinated every day, making it more difficult for any virus or variant to be as contagious or lethal as what we saw in 2020. We are on the road to herd immunity in the United States. It may take many more months for other countries to catch up, but they will catch up.

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –


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