( Seven-minute read)
As we know with the flu, figuring out the mutations of viruses takes years. The Coronavirus is no different, it will and is (as we are seeing) mutating into more versions, that will either be more aggressive or less aggressive strains.
Should we be worried?
The word mutates naturally conjures up fears of the unexpected.
It might be a one in a million chance that a mutation will be advantageous to the virus, however, if you let the virus replicate itself 900,000 times, odds are that an advantageous mutation will occur.
Mutations happen by chance, and the rate at which they occur depends on the virus.
For a virus to become more severe or transmit more easily multiple genes have to mutate and once a vaccine has arrived the virus must adapt to it.
We don’t know what those mutations might be doing.
So before we start reading that birds are falling out of the sky, cows getting mad covid, fish jumping out of the sea and we all becoming Hollywood Zombies variants of mass destruction, let’s look at what we truly know.
Is social media a spreader of the virus?
Yes and No. Social media is a double-edged sword.
The COVID-19 pandemic is at a scale that we have never seen in the age of social media. And it’s critical to use social media to understand what kind of information is being shared and what people believe in order to ensure an effective policy.
The problem is that, just as social media has been really effective at sharing positive messages, it is conducive to people sharing rumors and misinformation that can spread easily.
People are increasingly turning to social media to understand the virus, receive updates, and learn what can be done to stay safe.
Social media is used to boost an individual’s self-esteem as many use social media to depict the highlights of their life, completely neglecting to post the negatives.
Some of its benefits include increasing interactions with others, having more accessible information, social support, and having the potential to influence many policies related to health but it is not completely without faults.
At one end of the spectrum are people just being uninformed and sharing incorrect information that they think is correct and helpful.
Toward the other end of the spectrum, people share actively harmful misinformation that is reinforced by their preexisting beliefs.
The end result is that many now and in the future will rely on the Internet, for the latest news and updates in the world and social media has started to evolve into sharing information about important current events. However, the spread of misinformation can easily result in mass hysteria about current events.
Those who, during the pandemic, learned how to use all types of video platform services are more likely to continue doing so even when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
What is true is this.
While world economies are shut and open, at the moment we don’t know everything about what’s changed with the delta virus to become the Omicron Varient making it more transmissible and it is now finding ways to get around the immunity that we’re generating in the population through vaccination.
Quarantines may or may not reduce their ability to spread and in doing so reduce the virus’s ability to mutate, however, if the mutations are not beneficial to the virus they will be eliminated by natural selection and the mechanism of evolution so the virus will adapt their environment.
Is there a limit to how much a virus can mutate or does it just continue to evolve indefinitely?
There is a limit but we don’t know what it is, because the possible genetic mutations that the virus could undergo are greater than all the atoms in the visible universe. ( There are 4^135 atoms in the visible universe.)
Therefore it is not possible to predict what new mutations could emerge. But the rate of mutations is important because the faster a virus mutates, the quicker it changes behavior.
It will not matter which mutations the virus has. It’s not a good virus either way.
The question then becomes, are those changes significant to us?
According to the (WHO), the current Pandemic could be over by the end of 2022 if the vaccines were shared equitably. With the current inequalities that already exist in the world, this is pie in the sky.
The vaccine prevents disease, but it doesn’t necessarily prevent infection.
It’s the transmission of the virus that has to be stoped. Lifting restrictions and allowing as many people as possible to contract the virus is a recipe for mutations to develop. If we pretend like there’s no pandemic, we’re looking at millions of people dying before 85% of any country achieves herd immunity through natural infection.
The truth is that billions of doses worldwide need to be given before we can start returning to normal life.
We won’t be able to prevent new variants completely but we can reduce the risk by ensuring everyone, everywhere is able to be vaccinated.
How long does immunity last?
We don’t know how the vaccines work in real-time.
The jury is still out on Omicron, as the Virus in whatever variant spreads fast, far, and wide, more than any virus in history, cases have been doubling every two days in some places.
The burnout may take several years. Before it happens, havoc reigns because the virus now circulating almost exclusively among those who are unvaccinated is a potential threat to everyone.
What is a booster?
Is its composition different than its former doses, or identical?
Currently, we are all being encouraged to get a Booster jab as the original vaccine protection wanes after six months.
There appears to be little information as to what is a booster, what it contains, how long it lasts, should it be the same vaccine as you got in the first place, the same amount, or different.
The truth is that further work will be required to generate data at three months and one year after people have received their boosters, which will provide insights into their impact on long-term protection and immunological memory.
So we are still facing hurdles in getting people vaccinated, let alone boosted.
Millions of people will receive a different jab when they show up for their third appointment. Does this mean your booster dose may be different from the vaccines you had for your 1st and 2nd doses?
If you are on your first jab or second jab is there a different requirement with the booster?
Why the AstraZeneca vaccine won’t be offered as a booster jab?
One thing that can often help break through this roadblock, is proper information on each vaccine.
This is hard to unearth.
The ability for providers to not only address questions and misunderstandings about vaccines is so utterly important for general health, but especially during a pandemic.
As such, more efforts should be made to ensure that we understand that giving Covid booster jabs to people every six months is not “sustainable”
Apparently, there isn’t a need for a new, variant-specific vaccine – at least not yet. It’s not that the vaccine isn’t as good as you were told, it’s that we’re fighting a different variant of the virus now.
The third dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines- Pfizer and Moderna- is identical to its first two doses.
If you get the Moderna booster, you will receive half of the original Moderna dose. Please be sure to confirm this with the person giving you the shot.
Like the flu, with regular vaccinations and antiviral pills (COVID-19 isn’t ever going to go away completely ), it will run out the food sooner.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.
At the start of the pandemic, a key mantra was that we needed the game changer of antibody data to understand who had been infected and how many were protected.
As we have learned more about this challenging infection, it is time to admit that we really need the T cell data too. More research needs to be done to fully understand the relationship between our T cells and immunity to COVID-19.
Early findings suggest that they may provide us with long-term protection against the disease by genetically engineering the T-cell.
All human comments are appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.