As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, the virus behind COVID-19 keeps going through mutations. This behavior is normal, but it also creates problems for those seeking to find a solution to get society back to some semblance of normalcy.
Although several COVID strains are circulating, only three of them have authorities concerned. That’s because the virus seems to have adapted its protein spikes to make itself a more infectious agent.
The three strains under investigation are B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1.
Another variant found circulating in New York City and California is called B.1.526. Its infection rate is under investigation as well, offering a unique set of changes that could pose antigenic challenges for the current therapies being deployed.
Why Are the Variants Concerning Researchers?
As medical authorities research the shifting coronavirus mutations, including the UK and South African variants, they have noticed that transmissibility changes are taking place.
With the California variants labeled B.1.427 and B.1.429, a mutation that lets the virus bind to human receptor cells with greater ease makes it easier to catch COVID-19.
This issue might be part of why the United States continues reporting over 50,000 cases per day. In February 2021, over 500,000 deaths had the coronavirus listed as a contributing factor, with about 30 million total cases recorded.
Although the vaccine makers can insert the new genetic materials into the inoculations they distribute, Pfizer and BioNTech are looking at the idea of a third vaccine dose to trigger an additional immune response.
Since ongoing mutations could make the virus deadlier than it is now, the race to get everyone vaccinated is underway. Most global governments’ goal is to have the majority of adults receive both shots by the fall.
Until everyone gets their vaccines, people must follow today’s best practices to prevent transmission. That means social distancing, wearing a facial covering, and limiting indoor contact with others.