New strain of COVID


Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske

Covid-19 data is shown through a computer screen.

As mentioned in the news lately, there has been a new strain of COVID-19 going around in the UK, the new strain has now made its way to the United States through New York. Although COVID-19 has been around for a while, it is still evolving. Now with the new vaccine that just came out the vaccine will have to evolve with COVID-19 as well. According to WebMD, there is a strain that is 50% more contagious than the previous strain that is going around the United States.

There is also another highly contagious strain that is making rounds in South Africa that could make its way to the States. Though it does not appear to show any more symptoms than the novel coronavirus, it made its way to people with no travel history, including Texas, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut (CIDRAP).

Adam Kucharski, Ph.D., specializes in the math of infectious diseases, says the math shows this strain will be more deadly. He predicts that since the virus is 50% more contagious it could result in five times as many deaths as a virus where a patient infects 1.1 others and kills 0.8% of everyone it infects which equals about 129 people within a month. This virus could also put more hospitals in danger of being over capacity. Los Angeles hospitals are already overwhelmed and have to cut back on oxygen tanks (WebMD).

The good news is that Pfizer’s vaccine appears to work on the new strain, which could relieve some pressure on the hospitals, but the virus is constantly changing and will likely mutate to become resistant to the vaccination. The mutation helps the virus attach to human cells, which explains why it is more infective, and scientists are worried that it could make the virus more resistant to the vaccine (CNN).

Basically, someone is playing Plague Inc. with us and they just upgraded their virus to be resistant to vaccines and infect more people. Though it may not be as lethal as the novel COVID-19, it is still capable of killing just as many people. It’s just as important to follow COVID-19 precautions now.