Clinical

New Variants of COVID-19 Pose as New Threats

Over the past week, more news of the novel COVID-19 virus had made their way to the headlines.

First, scientist report of five new covid-19 variants that may be more dangerous than ever. From December 2020, experts have seen a sudden surge of younger patients with severe cases filling hospital beds. This variant was linked to the U.K. variant, which was reported to have genetic mutations that allowed it to infest and attack quicker. Concerns from experts and the general public grew as it turned out that the U.K. variant had accumulated multiple mutations, all at once. Another variant was discovered in Spain, titled 20A.EU1. Specifically, this mutation contained a change on the viral spike protein allowing it to bind to in-body cells more easily. Found first in South Africa, the variant 20H/501Y.V2 spread quick and now is the main form of the virus present in South Africa. Though experts found similar mutations with the British counterpart, they came to the conclusion that they were both independently developed. In January 2021, it was reported that an antibody serum from COVID patients “proved to be less effective at neutralizing the variant”. Thirdly, Brazil reported two new variants that stemmed from an older one previously. Called P.1 and P.2, the first variant is more of concern because it carries more mutations and has already been discovered in other countries such as Japan, showing consequences of unrestricted traveling. Experts worry as long concentrations of the virus in a population could lead to a mutation/variant burst. As of January 31, experts have reported that both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are still effective with the variants and have not shown any compromise. The company producing Moderna vaccines have issued a new boost shot in response to the new variants.

Multiple cases of the variants listed above have made their way to the United States. This week, Maryland confirmed a strain of cases were from the South Africa variant. The Massachusetts Democratic congressman, Stephen Lynch, had received not only 1 dose, but two of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, this week it was reported he was infected with COVID-19. Alarming to the public, the CDC stated it takes a few weeks to build up an adequate immunity once the vaccine has been taken. For Congressman Lynch, it has not been reported when he received both doses except for that he was required to take one before the presidential inauguration, mid-January. As infection counts and death tolls continue to rise, Michigan reported that out of 104 deaths on Saturday, nine had been of elderly retired nuns of the church. “The nine sisters — Dorothea Gramlich, 81, Helen Laier, 88, Jeannine Therese McGorray, 86, Charlotte Moser, 86, Esther Ortega, 86, Mary Lisa Rieman, 79, Ann Rena Shinkey, 87, Margaret Ann Swallow, 97, and Mary Irene Wischmeyer, 94 — died between January 11 and 26.” (CNN)

The United States and the newly inaugurated Biden Administration bears heavy words of promise as Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Officer of the President, promised a significantly better and effective response to the virus in reflection of the past year. Part of the official COVID-19 team, Dr. Fauci said “we realize that responding to COVID-19 and rebuilding global health and advancing health security around the world will not be easy.  And in this regard: we are committed to transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic. It is imperative that we learn and build upon important lessons about how future pandemic events can be averted.”

As the virus continues its rampage on our world, it is important to remember that the virus does not show mercy for anyone.

nextstrain.org

Sources:
https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/01/21/dr-anthony-s-fauci-remarks-world-health-organization-executive-board-meeting.html
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/30/us/michigan-nuns-covid-19-nine-deaths/index.html
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-most-worrying-mutations-in-five-emerging-coronavirus-variants/

Categories: Clinical