New COVID mutations could prolong the pandemic for another year, despite vaccines Dr. Anthony Fauci

New COVID mutations could prolong the pandemic for another year, despite vaccines Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is preparing to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland. The next month or two can determine whether the vaccine or mutations win.

As more than 25 million Americans enjoy the presumptive protection of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci has appeared on the news with visions of herd immunity in late summer. That is the optimistic scenario that we are all desperate to believe in. However, an alternative scenario is starting to look more and more likely, one in which we could still be battling the pandemic well into 2022.

 This view begins with our current fragile situation: case rates are terrifyingly high, few people have immunity and delivery of the vaccine is extremely slow. The virus, meanwhile, is changing and has already mutated into versions that spread more quickly, can kill more efficiently, and threaten to undermine the effectiveness of vaccines. 

The nightmare scenario: the virus mutates into a variant that weakens current vaccines or makes them obsolete before the rollout reaches the 150 million people needed to achieve herd immunity, which would stop the virus.
If we are really unlucky, it already mutates versions of SARS-CoV-2 in circulation are sufficient to cause such a setback. This is what some studies suggest - although this is preliminary and it can take weeks or months to collect patient data to clearly show what a particular variant is doing. "Everything indicates that these virus variants could be a significant challenge for the vaccine," says Michael Osterholm, a candid infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota who was a key member of the COVID advisory council prior to the inauguration of Joe Biden. . "Without a doubt, this is possibly the most overwhelming problem we face. 

The Evolving Threat 

 Under Donald Trump, the U. gave little thought to low-tech methods to keep infections under control, primarily the use of masks and social distancing, and bet all its chips on vaccines. A few months ago, when it became clear that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines protect more than 90 percent of those inoculated, that bet seemed like a winner.

 But the launch of the vaccine was also rare, and now it is problematic. Continual bottlenecks in vaccine production and distribution, rampant mistrust of vaccine safety, a reluctance to mask and take other basic precautions, and the spread of a much more transmissible, possibly more lethal version of the virus - all of these things. they stand between us and normal life. 

The first significant COVID-19 mutation was discovered in the U. in December. This variant appears to be more contagious thanks to a change in "spike protein" - the protrusions on the virus's surface that help it attach to a healthy one. The U. variant spreads up to 70 percent, according to public health officials faster in populations. This is sufficient, but recent published studies have shown that the variant also has a 30 percent higher chance of killing those it infects. Other more rapidly spreading variants have also been found in California and Ohio, among others.

 Dangerous mutations sometimes occur on the left and right because the COVID-19 case rate is so high. When the virus enters a person's bloodstream, billions are created. The essence of the mutation is that some of these copies are not exactly identical to the original. In the vast majority of cases, these random mutations have little effect on the virus, or even reduce its ability to infect and become ill, but given enough opportunities, one copy of the virus is likely to end up changing in a way that does. Most transmissible, most lethal, or capable of beating the vaccine, or worst case scenario, all three. 40-440-4 With more than 25 million known cases in the United States and 100 million worldwide, the virus has a vast field game to test new mutations. The more people infected, the more likely a vaccine-defeating virus will appear soon.

 The best chance that infection rates are low enough to prevent such a mutational disaster is the rapid release of the vaccine. "Our challenge is to get everyone vaccinated fast enough to reduce the amount of virus and slow down the ability to mutate," said Eric Rosenberg, director of the Massachusetts Clinical Microbiology Laboratory General.

. People wait in line to get a COVID-19 vaccination behind a sign on January 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. A group of 12 live entertainment organizations that own some of the largest arenas in the U. offered to become COVID vaccination centers. 
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