As COVID-19 rages globally, a new COVID-19 variant threatens to increase infection rates.
By Annika Henthorn
From the start of COVID-19, new strains of the virus have continued to appear. The virus’ rapid spread from person to person forces the virus to mutate overtime. According to ABC, the virus usually only changes slightly in its genetic makeup. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke with EyeWitness News and agreed that “this should be expected.” However, one strain can quickly dominate a region either by being the first strain experienced there or because of the dominant nature of the strain.
This new, mutant strand has quickly prevailed in Britain and South Africa, gradually making its way to Colorado and now Southern California, according to WMBF. Experts are still determining whether it should be a genuine cause for concern. However, Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson, has implemented new restrictions in order to combat this pressing issue. One of which includes limited flights to and from the UK in hopes of thwarting this mysterious strain from spreading, according to ABC.
ABC has also said that this strain now makes up 60% of all cases in London. This is due to the essence of the strain and its highly infectious characteristics. Although much is still unknown about this virus, it has been determined by Time that this strain is 50-70% more contagious. Rather than one person infecting only one other person, this strain can infect up to four or five other people per infected person. Dr. Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute, argues that a travel ban would be too late at this point. With the strain already being detected in the US, it would be redundant to limit travel. Regardless of this variant strain, experts have reiterated that the vaccine should still remain effective.
The very first person reported with this new strain was a Colorado National Guardsmen. He was helping out at a nursing home that was suffering from an outbreak of COVID-19, and was possibly exposed there. It was also said that a second guardsmen might have contracted it as well. This same strain, according to WMBF, was revealed in a patient in San Diego. The patient obtaining this new strain became symptomatic on December 27 and the variant was discovered shortly after. The patient, remaining unnamed, had no history of travel.
San Diego Mayor, Todd Gloria, emphasizes that as hospitals begin to reach their maximum capacity, it is crucial people stay home and wear masks as much as possible. Despite the transmission rate on the decline, Governor Gavin Newsom warns this could quickly change with holiday gatherings, restating the vitality of staying home.
Melanie Moyer '22,