Never could New Yorkers and Americans as a whole have expected this pandemic to have lasted this long. With so many irreparable damages and deaths, you would think the worst has happened. Well, if you thought so, you couldn’t be more wrong.
The Coronavirus is one of the most unexpected and unwanted viruses/events to have ever happened on earth. The pandemic alone has led to many schools temporarily closing, some have lost their jobs, and entrepreneurs of the non-essential category have had to stop their ventures. The health sector hasn’t been this stressed out ever before, and people have had to limit their travels and social lives to prevent further spread. The rate of loneliness has rapidly increased, so has depression and severe mental health issues. All these have one way or the other affected every American’s lives, even without contracting the virus. And judging by the number of events experienced in the U.S, such as the huge waves of protests that happened last year, more people got the virus, and more casualties were recorded. These past few months have been quite negative, with the pandemic having a hand in it one way or another. With vaccines now available, many Americans are starting to have faith that we are approaching normalcy very soon, but how true can that be?
If you know a thing or two about viruses, you should be able to determine that they can mutate, and the Covid-19 virus isn’t an exception. Most viruses, like the Covid-19, tend to mutate, which means that they can alter their make-up both internally and externally, making them resistant to any efforts made to terminate or render them inactive. This pandemic has lasted more than a year, giving the Corona Virus the time to mutate into other forms, just as explained above. With so much time spent by health scientists to study the virus and produce a feasible vaccine, there are some chances that the vaccines might not be as effective for these new mutated variants as they would be for the initially discovered variant. However, some scientists say otherwise. Be that as it may, the new Covid-19 variants are in the U.S, with more variants being spotted in New York and California. So yes, the vaccines are here. However, it remains to be seen if life would return to normal because of these new strains on the loose. To have a clearer understanding of these new Covid-19 variants and what it entails for the coming months for New Yorkers, you would have to keep reading below;
Now, let’s take an alternate route to understand these variants better. Imagine that you got the flu and never received your flu shot before it happened. You obviously would expect the symptoms to be more heightened and severe. However, if you did take the flu shot, you might experience symptoms, but it would be mild. Now, that is the same way the variants work. If the virus (your body) never underwent any mutation before, it could have been easily susceptible to any feasible chemical compound/vaccine that could cause it to breakdown (the flu). However, after it had undergone mutation against the specific chemical compound/vaccine that causes it to breakdown (your body after taking the flu shot), it would become very resistant to that external factor that would cause it to disintegrate (the flu). It could even cause it to spread quicker.
For a while, since the Covid-19 has been studied, scientists have been able to find out ways it could spread and how such spread can be reduced. The usual facemasks, two to three feet social distancing, and hand sanitizing have been standard for a while, but with new variants in play, you would never know what to expect. Initial research has shown that these new variants are slightly resistant to treatment, but they also have a more comprehensive range of spread. Their spores remain active longer than the original variant. While the research above is rather vague than specific, scientists have been able to classify these new variants separately. Their regions of origin have significantly helped trace what kinds of variants they are, their modes of transmission, and suitable prevention methods. Out of the Covid-19 cases in the U.S caused by variants, below are the new variants that are coming to New York City;
This variant is one of the significant variants that have been recognized in New York City. After Columbia and Caltech carried out research, scientists could decipher that the effective resistance built up by this new variant is the resistance to the current vaccines used. This mutation means that even individuals who have been already vaccinated could still contract the virus. This variant was first noticed in November. Caltech used GISAID to scan for genetic mutations among hundreds of thousands of the COVID genetic sequences. The result amounted to twenty-seven percent of viral sequences in the database and rising. Columbia, on the other hand, took 1,142 samples from patients at the university’s teaching hospital. Twelve percent of these samples were discovered to have the E484K, which is one out of the two sub-strains that make up the B.1.526.
- Rate of Spread: The B.1.526 has a more potent spreading rate than the former variant. Data from the city health department suggests that up to forty-five percent of new Covid-19 cases are because of the new variant in the first week of March. The week before that, it was up to sixty-five percent, which was fifty-two percent two weeks before. The rate of spread of the new variant has been quite erratic, so there is no telling what it could be in the coming weeks. Residents have been exposed to brace for the worst, and health officials have intensified their duties to keep the B.1.526 variant at bay. Metropolitan areas of NYC have been marked as high target areas of infection. This variant has also been spotted in 14 other states, such as Texas, Maryland, and Wyoming.
- Variant Sub-Strains: The B.1.526 variant consists of two strains, known as the E484K and S477N. The E484K mutation can be more resistant to any form of vaccination or treatment, while the S477N can bind more tightly to the host human cells than usual. These mutations have led to difficulty in controlling the spread of the virus and problems in vaccinations.
This variant was made public by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on the 20th of March. It was first discovered in a patient in her 90s at a Mount Sinai Hospital. The patient, who is from Brooklyn, apparently had no travel history whatsoever, making health officials wonder how this variant could have come about. The P.1 variant originated from Brazil and has since then found its way into North America, like the United States and Mexico.
- Rate of Spread: The P.1 variant is still relatively new to the States, unlike the B.1.526, which means that it is difficult to determine how potent or infectious it is. However, the B.1.526 still makes up more than sixty percent of the new Covid infections caused by recent New York City variants.
- Variant Sub-Strains: The P.1 variant consists of two strains: the E484K and the N501Y. The E484K variant will probably have the same effect as the one detected
- In the B.1.526 variant, this means that it would be able to slow down the antibody’s response from the vaccine. The N501Y, on the other hand, could cause the virus to spread more quickly and easily, which means the virus would have a longer potent period and effectiveness.
What These New Variants Mean For Vaccinations
There has been this fear that the new variants could be resistant to the current vaccines available. While such skepticism is okay to have, the various laboratories that created the vaccines have tried to reassure the public that the vaccines would be just as effective on the new variants as it is on the first variant. They have also received backing from the World Health Organization, which stated that “the changes or mutations in the virus should not make vaccines completely ineffective.” Despite the statement made by the World Health Organization, private research has shown that the protection and immunity offered by the antibodies in the vaccine can be “side-stepped” by the mutated virus. This mutation means that the vaccines could have their efficiencies reduced, and that includes the vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson &Johnson, AstraZeneca, etc. The mutation of the virus includes building more spike protein to make them more resistant to the antibodies’ effects. However, these spike proteins are utilized by the vaccines to build up the sensitivity of our immune system to detect and get rid of the virus. This protein is why scientists are confident that the vaccines will create variable immune responses like more antibodies and cells to combat the variants. With this response, they believe that the vaccines’ efficiency won’t be drastically affected by the new variants.
So, long story short, the vaccines would still offer protection and limit future spread. However, it shouldn’t be expected to be a hundred percent effective on new variant cases.
Ways to Prevent Further Spread of the New Variants
The government had already set different guidelines and regulations to stall the spread of the Corona Virus. However, with the detection of new variants in the States, these guidelines might have to be ramped up and not be taken for granted. Here are some guidelines that will need to be taken more seriously if we are to get close to a state of normalcy in New York and the United States as a whole;
- Social Distancing: Many people have kept to the 2 to 3 feet rule, while others have grown tired of it. To stop this new variant, people need to be lectured on the risks they pose to themselves and the people around them if they pay no heed to these precautions. With the new variants supposedly being more contagious, it’s encouraged for the social distance limit to be increased beyond three feet.
- Wearing Of Masks: Just as a few reputable scientists have said, “there is nothing political about wearing a mask; it is strictly for our medical benefit.” Wearing a mask is mutual; it can only help stop the spread if everybody actively wears it. The fewer spores ejected from an individual when talking, coughing, or sneezing could be the key to eradicating this virus and its variants.
- Sanitization: When this is brought up, most people always think about hand sanitization. While it’s good to keep your hand sanitized, it’s not the only thing that should be sanitized. Cultivate the habit of always keeping your area clean and infection-free by using disinfectants and sanitizers to terminate microorganisms and droplets that could encourage the Covid-19 spread. It’s also advisable to reach out to a certified and professional sanitation team to help you keep your home Covid-19 free. Going for Coronavirus cleaning services in New York City should be on the top of your to-do list. Steps like these will do so much to flatten the curve and make New Yorkers and Americans return to their daily lives and activities sooner than later.
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