What We Know about COVID-19 Variants
First – the good news about the multiple variant strains of COVID-19 coming at us from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil: so far, studies suggest antibodies in the currently authorized vaccines recognize and can counteract the effects of the variants.
The bad news is that viruses constantly evolve and mutate. These variants appear to spread more easily and quickly than the original virus, which could lead to other case surges that will further stress our hospital resources.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists and public health officials are working to understand the following about each variant.
- Does it spread more easily from person to person?
- Does it cause milder or more severe disease in people?
- Can it be detected by currently available viral tests?
- Will it respond to medicines currently being used to treat people for COVID-19?
- How will it affect the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines?
Until we have more conclusive information about the COVID-19 variants, it remains important for people to continue to wear masks, social distance and wash hands frequently.