They are spreading and carrying mutations that make the coronavirus more contagious
For several weeks, the mood in most parts of the United States has been optimistic. The number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths has dropped sharply from the highest level, and millions of people are vaccinated every day. Restaurants, shops and schools have reopened. Some states, such as Texas and Florida, have completely abandoned preventive measures.
The Americans have won the war against the coronavirus in a measurable way. The strong shooting and accelerated launch ensure that it will eventually return to normal-return to the backyard for barbecue, summer camp and overnight.
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the next few months will be painful. The so-called variants are spreading and carrying mutations, making the coronavirus more contagious and in some cases even more deadly.
Even though the vaccine was licensed at the end of last year, paving the way for the pandemic’s extinction, these variants have defeated Britain, South Africa and Brazil. New variants continue to emerge: one week in California, the second week in New York and Oregon. As these new versions of the coronavirus spread, they threaten to delay the end of the pandemic.
Currently, most vaccines seem to be effective against these variants. But public health officials are deeply concerned that future iterations of this virus may be more resistant to immune responses, requiring Americans to line up for regular rounds of booster doses or even new vaccines.
Health officials recognize that as these new viruses spread within the United States, there is an urgent need to track these new viruses. B.1.1.7 is a highly contagious variant that has attacked the United Kingdom and caused severe damage throughout the European continent. It is currently spreading in the United States at an exponential rate.
Limited genetic testing has revealed more than 12,500 cases, many of them in Florida and Michigan. As of March 13, the variant accounted for approximately 27% of new cases nationwide, compared with only 1% in early February.
The Biden administration has pledged to pay a $200 million “down payment” to strengthen surveillance. This injection is designed to make it possible to test a variant of the virus that can test 25,000 patient samples per week.
Researchers say that until recently, the spread of B.1.1.7 was concealed by a decline in overall infection rates, which led Americans to a false sense of security and led to the premature relaxation of restrictions.
Other variants found in South Africa and Brazil, as well as certain versions of the virus first discovered in the United States, spread more slowly. But they are also worrying because they contain mutations that reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. Just this week, P.1 (the variant that hit Brazil hard) broke out, forcing the closure of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in British Columbia.