This in-depth report of the CNN needs to be carefully understood by all, irrespective of whether one is a civilian or the other a health care expert. Produce here is what is reported as the voice of this newspaper. The intention is to take extra precautionary measures for the prevention of the spread of the virus.
Variants have arisen all over the world — the B.1.1.7 or Alpha variant was first seen in England. The B.1.351 or Beta variant was first spotted in South Africa. The Delta variant, also called B.1.617.2, was seen first in India. And the US has thrown up several of its own variants, including the B.1.427 or Epsilon lineage first seen in California, and the B.1.526 or Eta variant first seen in New York.
Already, one new variant has swept much of the world. Last summer, a version of the virus-carrying mutation called D614G went from Europe to the US and then the rest of the world. The change made the virus more successful — it replicated better — so that version took over from the original strain that emerged from China. It appeared before people starting naming the variants, but it became the default version of the virus.
Most of the newer variants added changes to D614G. The Alpha variant, or B.1.1.7, became the dominant variant in the US by late spring thanks to its extra transmissibility. Now the Delta variant is even more transmissible, and it’s set to become the dominant variant in many countries, including the US.
The current vaccines protect well against all the variants so far, but that could change at any moment. That’s why doctors and public health officials want more people to get vaccinated.
“The more we allow the virus to spread, the more opportunity the virus has to change,” the World Health Organization advised last month.
Vaccines are not widely available in many countries. But in the US, there is plenty of supply, with slowing demand. Just 18 states have fully vaccinated more than half their residents, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Currently, approximately 1,000 counties in the United States have vaccination coverage of less than 30%. These communities, primarily in the Southeast and Midwest, are our most vulnerable. In some of these areas, we are already seeing increasing rates of disease,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told a White House briefing Thursday.
“Every time we see the virus circulating in the population, particularly a population that has pockets of immune people, vaccinated people, and pockets of unvaccinated people, you have a situation where the virus can probe,” Pekosz said.
If a virus tries to infect someone with immunity, it may fail, or it may succeed and cause a mild or asymptomatic infection. In that case, it will replicate in response to the pressure from a primed immune system.
Like a bank robber whose picture is on wanted posters everywhere, the virus that succeeds will be the virus that makes a random change that makes it look less visible to the immune system.
Those populations of unvaccinated people give the virus the chance not only to spread but to change.
“All it takes is one mutation in one person,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician, and immunologist at Boston College.