New variants of novel coronavirus have emerged, but one — B.1.1.7, originally discovered in the UK — is particularly worrisome.
Although it does not appear to cause more severe illness, it can be 50 per cent more contagious than previous strains.
B.1.1.7 What does the strain mean?
B.1.1.7 appears to bind to human cells more effectively.
This means that a person infected with the new strain could infect another person in the same room with a smaller amount of the virus, and in a shorter time.
People infected with the strain can also carry a higher viral load, increasing the risk of infection in nearby people.
“We don’t fully understand the exact mechanism by which it becomes more infectious,” said Nathan Gruber, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health.
Maybe it’s because when you get infected, you exhale more virus.”
How can I protect myself from infection?
The mutant novel coronavirus spreads in the same way as other strains.
Therefore, the protection you took before is just as useful now, but you need to upgrade.
Wear a double – or triple-layer mask, don’t spend time indoors with non-family members, avoid crowds, keep a social distance, and wash your hands frequently.
“This strain is still following the same route of transmission as the regular strain, but the risk of transmission is higher.”
Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.
There is no denying that, after months of living with the epidemic, many people are starting to relax.
The arrival of this mutant strain means you should avoid potential exposure and be extra cautious in the coming months.
What are the other “advanced” steps?
A new crown vaccine is the ultimate way to reduce risk.
But until then, take a look at your own activities and try to reduce the amount and duration of your contact with other people.
For example, if you go to the supermarket two or three times a week, cut it down to once a week or shorten your stay.
If you’ve been spending a lot of time indoors with people who aren’t family members, consider canceling those events until you and your friends get vaccinated.
If this cannot be cancelled, please wear a mask and keep the room well ventilated.
If you’re considering taking a plane or other form of public transportation, it’s a good idea to modify your itinerary in light of the emergence of new, more contagious varieties in the United States.
Lindsay Marr, one of the world’s leading experts on aerosols, said: “The new variant will make me think twice about teaching offline and about flying.”
Will the current new crown vaccine hold up?
Experts expressed cautious optimism that the current vaccine is effective against some of the emerging varieties of the new crown.
Some data suggest that some mutant strains containing specific mutations may be more resistant to the vaccine, but further research is needed.
Experts say the current vaccine produces levels of antibodies that are high enough to at least protect people from severe illness.
“The way vaccines work, it’s not a single antibody that provides protection,” says Adam Laughlin, an infectious disease expert at the University of Michigan.
So it’s unlikely that some mutation in novel coronavirus would leave you completely unprotected.”
How do I know what I’m infected with?
If you test positive for a new crown, standard nucleic acid tests cannot determine which strain.
The only way to know for sure is with genome-sequencing technology.
But the technique is generally not used to inform individual patients.
But no matter which strain you are infected with, the treatment strategy is the same.
Will the recovered person be “immune” to the new strain?
Most experts agree that once you’ve been infected with novel coronavirus, your body has some natural immunity against a second infection, though the duration of immunity is unknown.
However, the mutant strains found in Brazil and South Africa appear to evade natural antibodies and cause secondary infections.
The effectiveness of the vaccine against the two strains is also unclear.
But scientists believe that even if the antibodies do not fully protect the body against either of the mutated viruses, they will still protect people from severe illness.