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COVID-19 "Super Strain"

  • Category: Coronavirus
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
COVID-19 "Super Strain"

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has brought hope to millions looking for a return to normalcy. As states refine the process for vaccination and cases are on the rise again, many are wondering what role this new “super strain” plays in the current surge of positive cases and the vaccine roll out.

There is now at least one “super strain” in the Unites States and a single case has been confirmed in Louisiana. The strain is commonly referred to as the U.K. variant, is still highly prevalent in Britain and is thought to be more contagious than the original but is not believed to be the cause of the current spike in positive COVID-19 cases. Holiday gatherings and widespread travel are likely to blame for the current upward trend. Experts believe that because the variants spread more rapidly, they could lead to more cases, putting even more pressure on our already stressed healthcare systems.

How Do Viruses Change?

Viruses constantly change through mutation. It is a normal part of the virus lifecycle and are not typically a cause for concern. Mutations are expected in RNA viruses such as COVID-19, flu, and the measles and are planned for as vaccines are developed. Multiple variants of the novel coronavirus have been circulating globally during this pandemic. Most of these variants will disappear while others will emerge. CDC officials told the Washington Post that they suspect the U.K. variant is present in most states, and will become more common in the weeks to come. Currently, 11 states have confirmed minimal cases of the variant strain.

Researchers explain that the current variant contains a mutation within the spike protein, which encase the outer coating of the virus and give it that “spikey” appearance. This change in the outer coating is believed to improve the virus’s ability to bind to human cells, making it more infectious. It is important to note that there has been no indication that this variant causes more severe disease or increased risk of death.

What Does This Mean for the Vaccine?

The good news is that public health officials believe the current vaccines will be effective against the virus variations because they produce a broad range of antibodies that are directed at various parts of the spike protein. More research is being done on the virus and its mutations to determine whether variants can be detected by available viral tests and if the mutations respond to medications currently being used to treat people for COVID-19.

Because this variant is more contagious, we must remain committed, now more than ever, to doing what is necessary in slowing the spread and should maintain current CDC guidelines by wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding crowds, and getting vaccinated when possible.