Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of clay Magazine or TPS.
As if COVID-19 did not already ravage the world during 2020, reports now suggest that the virus may have mutated and formed new strains. The newest variant of COVID-19, known as B.1.1.7, has spread across the United Kingdom and has now reached the United States. Although it is only a slight variation, and some experts believe that the current vaccine will be effective against this variant of COVID, B.1.1.7 is much more infectious than the original strain that the world has become familiar with. However, it does not matter if this COVID strain will be extinguished by the vaccine, since it also means that there will have been more infections.“That’s not the point. More infections mean more hospitalizations and higher mortality rates, all of which puts more strain on an already strained-to-the-hilt health care system” (Frank Diamond).
Furthermore, there is no dispute that B.1.1.7 has made its new home in the United States., “ it was very likely already circulating in L.A. B.1.1.7 had previously made its way through San Diego and San Bernardino Counties. Before that, the strain had been found in Colorado, where it made its U.S. landfall” (Tapp). With the rapidness that B.1.1.7 spreads and its incredible contagiousness the CDC has said that B.1.1.7 could possibly usher a, “new phase of “exponential growth” in total Covid-19 cases” (Tapp). With the threat of more COVID strands in the United States, this could also increase infection rate. With a high infection rate we could then see an influx of people admitted to hospitals, as well as more COVID related deaths.
L452R also must be added to the list of COVID-19 mutations. Similar to B.1.1.7, L452R was also first identified in Europe, L452R was first found in Denmark. Drawing parallels to its distant relative, L452R was also identified in California, meaning the United States has been infiltrated by two different variations of COVID. “Two days after the Los Angeles Public Health Department announced that the much-talked-about UK variant of Covid-19, known as B.1.1.7, had been identified in the region, the California Department of Public Health revealed that another lesser-known strain had been circulating in the county as well, known as L452R” (Tapp). However, unlike B.1.1.7, this mutation, L452R, is not as similar to the original strain of COVID-19 as the first mutation, B.1.1.7 is. “Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF who, in concert with state authorities, has been genetically sequencing test samples to identify new variants said early indications are the L452R might be less susceptible to the currently approved vaccines” (Tapp). L452R has what is referred to as a “spike protein,” which the virus uses this to latch onto and enter into cells. Thus, a spike mutation concerns some experts in its ability to interfere with the vaccines’ efficacy. The frequency in which the L452R strain has popped up in COVID testing has gone from 3.8%-25.2% in the last few months.
Seeing how there is not as much known about B.1.1.7 and L452R as there is known about the original strain, COVID-19, it is important to continue following COVID-19 protocols. While the virus continues to mutate, the average person is best off fighting on their own front by following COVID protocols and putting their utmost faith in God.
CDC: Act Now Against Highly Infectious COVID B.1.1.7. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/cdc-act-now-against-highly-infectious-covid-b-1-1-7
Tapp, T. (2021, January 19). Another New Covid-19 Variant Discovered In L.A. Might Be Vaccine Resistant, Researcher Says; Strain First Identified In Denmark. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://deadline.com/2021/01/another-new-covid-19-variant-in-l-a-vaccine-resistant-denmark-1234675834/