On the face of it, the pandemic news couldn’t possibly be worse.
The coronavirus is still raging, with record deaths every day here in the United States and abroad. Currently, in LA County, every eight minutes, there’s a COVID-19 death. Around the world, countries are enforcing tough new restrictions to stop the spread of the virus.
And as if that weren’t bad enough, now we’ve got worrying NEW STRAINS of the killer bug circulating.
Informally they’re being called the “British” mutation, the “South African” mutation, and most recently, the “Brazilian” mutation. And scientists believe at least two of them may spread more rapidly.
That means they can infect MORE people in a SHORTER time. And that threatens to overwhelm hospitals caring for the patients.
But I’m not here to just spread gloom and doom, my friend. In fact, I’ve got some GOOD NEWS today. Because the facts show, the situation is not as dire as what some of those headlines suggest.
If anything, we may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the situation could soon improve—first, some not so good news. But then I promise I’ll get to the good stuff.
The BAD NEWS about coronavirus mutations
The first thing to understand is that mutations are normal. This is how viruses operate. They mutate, and if the mutations turn out to have advantages for the bug, the new versions hang around.
These new mutations are far from the only ones we’ve seen. Others were useless and didn’t give the virus any advantages, which is why you’ve probably never heard of them. But two of the latest are more troubling than ones we’ve seen in the past.
Scientists are tracking at least two potent new strains of the coronavirus, one first identified in Britain and the other in South Africa. The British variant has already been detected in the United States. The South Africa one so far hasn’t. But it has spread to multiple nations, and if recent history is any indication, we’ll find it here soon enough.
Both are marked by something frightening: Speed.
They spread even FASTER than this already-notoriously quick-moving virus. So they’re infecting MORE people in a SHORTER space of time.
And there’s more bad news. The South Africa strain, in particular, seems to be able to block the new antibody drugs that have shown promise against the primary mutations in circulation right now.
That means folks who get very sick from the South Africa mutation have at least one less effective treatment option.
The GOOD NEWS in the battle against the bug
But now for some good news. Scientists say that while the two strains appear to be more easily passed around, they’re NOT showing signs of causing worse infections or turning deadlier. And that’s a HUGE relief.
That’s not the only bright spot. Pfizer says the early evidence shows their current vaccine appears to work against these mutations.
Plus, in general, experts believe that many future mutations should be covered by the current vaccines as well. In fact, Pfizer reports their vaccine has worked against no less than 16 mutations tested so far, including the frightening new South Africa strain.
And in any case, the vaccine makers believe they can rapidly tweak what they have IF necessary. They say they should be able to produce vaccine variations that can fight new mutations in as little as six weeks.
In other words, we could still be on pace for a glimmer of normalcy to return at some point in spring or summer. Now I understand that might seem like a long way off yet. But let’s face it, when you think about it, it’s practically nothing compared to what we’ve been through so far.
In the meantime, double down on your protective measures to ensure NONE of the strains… old or new… have a chance to infect you.
That means wearing a mask, limiting where you’re going, taking advantage of senior hours (if you qualify) for shopping, maintaining social distancing measures, avoiding crowds, washing your hands, and keeping your immune system in tip-top shape with adequate sleep and proper nutrition.
For more tips on staying healthy while avoiding the coronavirus, click here