Currently, there are multiple strains of COVID-19 circulating within the US. Cases are still increasing in states even with the influx of vaccines being administered. The B.1.1.7. strain, originating from the UK, is much better at spreading throughout populations. This strain is popping up in multiple cities causing concerns that the current vaccines being administered may not be effective to the new mutations.
Medical experts are concerned that the current vaccine could create more resistant mutations that have yet to be discovered. The effects of mutant strains are unknown until the population that is infected begins showing said symptoms.
From the C.D.C.
“The United Kingdom (UK) identified a variant called B.1.1.7 with a large number of mutations in the fall of 2020. This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. In January 2021, experts in the UK reported that this variant may be associated with an increased risk of death compared to other variant viruses, but more studies are needed to confirm this finding. It has since been detected in many countries around the world. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of December 2020.
In South Africa, another variant called B.1.351 emerged independently of B.1.1.7. Originally detected in early October 2020, B.1.351 shares some mutations with B.1.1.7. Cases caused by this variant have been reported in the US at the end of January 2021.
In Brazil, a variant called P.1 emerged that was first identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January. This variant contains a set of additional mutations that may affect its ability to be recognized by antibodies. This variant was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021.
These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.”
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