With more reports of a new Covid-19 variant coming from the U.K., we’re seeing an upsurge in anxiety and panic. Of course we’re all worried and of course we’re tired. Because even though we have a vaccine on hand, there are still so many questions and so much uncertainty attached.
When will the vaccine be available? When will we be able to get it? Will the vaccine be effective against this new variant of Covid-19? And more importantly, when will all of this be over?
While we can’t answer the last question for you, we do have some answers from our medical expert, Dr. Rachna Kucheria. Here’s what you need to know about the new variant of Covid-19.
1. A new variant may not be the reason for a higher number of cases
One of the more popular sayings in the scientific world is that correlation does not mean causation. That means that although two events are occurring simultaneously, that does not mean that one is influencing the other.
So even though the U.K. has discovered a new variant and even though their cases are rising, we do not have definitive research so far to show that an increase in cases is coming from the new Covid-19 variant. We have some indications from mathematical modelling. But we are still awaiting more details on the behaviour of this variant.
What could be happening is that more interactions during the Christmas season is leading to a higher number of cases. Therefore, the move to go into lockdown once again to limit the number of cases during the holiday season is the correct response in favour of public health.
2. A new variant is not necessarily a more dangerous variant
Many people feel that the new variant of the coronavirus is also more dangerous. Once again, this speculation could prove to be false because we do not have the research or the data to prove the correlation between the two.
3. A new variant does not mean an ineffective vaccine
With so many concerns about a new variant of virus around, people are naturally concerned whether our long-awaited vaccine will work or not. “Yes it will.”, says Dr. Rachna Kuchera. “The antibody response that is produced by the vaccine does not depend just on one area of the antigen which has changed with the mutation.
The body’s immune response is a multi-layered response. In addition, on the spike protein area there are multiple sites that induce antibody production in the person who gets the vaccine. So even if one of those sites is knocked off or affected by the viruses the rest should still work.”
Put simply, the body’s immune system relies on multiple layers for vaccine effectiveness, not just one.
Also read: Protect Yourself From Covid
Watch Dr. Kucheria’s Video About the New Covid-19 variant
While we wait for more information and more science to lead the way, the best we can all do to keep ourselves safe is to continue doing what we have done all year. Keep a safe distance, wash our hands frequently with soap, and wear the right mask.
Also read: Symptoms Of Covid – Do I Have Covid?
Hi I’m Dr. Rachna Kucheria, a family physician. I’m speaking to you today about the new mutation that has been found in the virus and being sort of labeled to be the cause of the increased number of cases in the U.K.
I’d like to clarify a few things today and I’ll start with basically viruses and mutation. Viruses do mutate as has the coronavirus um and this new mutation that has been found does alter some aspects of the spike protein or what the virus uses to attach to uh the human beings or our cells now through modeling.
This is statistical modeling – they [health experts] are saying that it’s a very high likelihood that this virus could be responsible for the spike in the cases in the U.K.
So two things have happened together – that they found more viruses with this mutation and a sudden rise in the number of cases daily in the U.K. uh So this is leading them to say that this could be responsible; However, the proving of this needs to be still done by the genomics by the microbiology [and] by the researchers in the U.K.
So we’re still awaiting that and most of the bodies all over Europe as well as the U.K. are saying that this could be associated but again uh the science needs to back this up so in the meantime the governments have done what is the correct public health response. [They have] done a complete shutdown – a lockdown especially around a time, a season where people would be mingling with people, would be getting together with friends and families uh they’ve done the right thing to limit the spread.
The second concern people are having is that this new mutation [is] making the coronavirus more dangerous. That too still is a speculation uh the scientists are saying again that there is no indication as of now that the new mutation has made the virus more dangerous there is a rise in the cases that are in the hospital but that is in general because the cases have risen.
So more the number of cases whatever the proportion get to the hospital that will also rise not to say that the virus has become more deadly or is causing more serious ill health as of now.
The third aspect that people have been concerned about is that the vaccine is barely starting to roll out and now this virus seems to have changed character, [so] will the vaccine work? Yes it will uh because the antibody response that is produced by the vaccine does not depend just on one area of the antigen which is you know changed with the mutation.
There are multiple levels of it also um there are other kinds of immunity the body has so the body’s immune response is a multi-layered response as well as even on the spike protein area there are multiple sites that induce antibody production in the human being in the person who gets the vaccine. So even if one of those sites is knocked off or affected by the viruses the rest should still work.
This is the correct fact as of now and science is changing fast. Researchers are working faster and harder and together than ever before on the coronavirus so I think it’s good to keep in tune with the messaging that’s going on in the news but also not be taken in just by headlines.
Look between the lines look for reliable resources to actually see what the scientists and the science is saying versus just be taken in by the headline news. In the meantime, the best protection we know till now remains the three things of safe distancing, wearing your correct mask, and washing hands.
Stay safe during this festive season and wish you all a very happy safe and healthy new year.
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