Let’s talk COVID –
I get it, this virus has been the headliner for a little over a year, and we are all bored of it now. However, it is your duty as a citizen of the world to inform yourself about current developments and events (including this one!). Described below is an overview of COVID-19 vaccines and mutations. There are also interesting articles to further your knowledge if you are interested.
There are many types of the coronavirus; the one affecting the globe currently is referred to as “COVID-19.” This virus is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It can affect some people with compromised immune systems. But we are all familiar with this stuff - let's get in deeper.
Populations went into quarantine while scientists urgently developed vaccines. The types of vaccines include live, inactivated, messenger RNA (mRNA), etc. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are mRNA based in which proteins are made to trigger an immune response. This type is beneficial because it doesn’t contain a live virus (a person getting vaccinated will not catch the disease). Differing from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine utilizes DNA (double stranded) instead of RNA. This was because previous research done by this company provided success in an Ebola virus vaccine (Adenovirus-based vaccine). Currently, blood-clots formed in J&J vaccinated people are being investigated to see a link (if there is) and the risk they may have.
There are many different strains of the coronavirus circulating around the globe. These strains are referred to by the country they originated in and are caused by the nature of viruses. Geographic separation and adaptability are the main reasons why mutations form. Some are minor and dissolve while others are persistent and affect the population. The categories (from least concerning to most concerning mutations respectively) are Variant of Interest (VOI), Variant of Concern (VOC), and Variant of High Consequence (VOHC). There are five current VOC strains in the United States. Little is known about the difference between these strains and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). According to Stuart Ray, “There is new evidence from laboratory studies that some immune responses driven by current vaccines could be less effective against some of the new strains. The immune response involves many components, and a reduction in one does not mean that the vaccines will not offer protection.”
This all goes to show that wearing a mask and social distancing are still necessary precautions to prevent more infections. Whether you are vaccinated or not, immunocompromised or not, this virus could affect you or your loved ones.
Haas Hall Academy Freshman