Although infection rates have definitely declined and the U.S has made some progress, the fall in numbers conceal the rise in more infectious variants of the virus. Vaccinations will limit the transmission of the virus, but only if the American public put off their celebration for later.
New Strains Of The Virus Threaten To Extend The Pandemic
Since weeks, the American public has been experiencing a cheerful mood, which is usually different from the dreadful paranoia the pandemic had intended to bring upon us. Case numbers, hospitalizations and casualties have plummeted from their heights, and millions of people are being immunized on a regular basis. Eateries, schools and shops are yet again opening their doors to the customers. States like Florida and Texas have lifted safety precautions altogether.
In terms of numbers, Americans are winning the fight against the novel coronavirus. Effective vaccines and a rapid vaccination drive provide Americans with the hope of returning back to the normal.
However, it is becoming more clear, as time passes, that the next few months will be especially difficult. So-called new strains of the virus are circulating in large numbers, accompanied with mutations that make the corona virus more infectious and even, more lethal, in some cases.
With the advent and authorization of the vaccines last year, Americans were hopeful that it would create a path to the pandemic’s end. However, new variants are emerging regularly in cities like California, Oregon and New York. As these variants continue to increase, they threaten to delay the end of the long drawn pandemic.
Presently, all the vaccines, so far, are effective enough in fighting off the virus. Yet, health experts are apprehensive thinking about how future versions of the virus may be more resistant to the antibodies produced by the vaccines and as a result, will compel Americans to continue taking booster shots or even, new formulations of vaccines.
Prof. Devi Sridhar, who holds the Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, has said that this novel virus appears to be constantly transforming in such a manner that makes it difficult for scientists to put it under control.
Health officials recognize the need to track these newly emerged variants as they increase their grip over the United States. Already, B.1.1.7, a variant which was first discovered in the UK, has largely expanded its spread over the nation.
Research has found 12,500 new cases of variants in Florida and Michigan. The UK variant, namely B.1.1.7 has caused 27 percent of new cases nationwide, as of 13th March, while it was only 1 percent back in February.
President Biden has proposed a “down payment” of around $200 million in order to increase supervision; with an intention to make it feasible to study 25,000 patient samples every week for traces of virus variants. This intention is highly ambitious considering how the nation was studying just a few hundred samples every week in December, which eventually got increased to 9,000 each week as of March 27.
Until recently, the rise of the UK variant was overshadowed and concealed by the plummeting rates of infections overall, illuminating the American public into a false sense of safety and assurance and leading to early loosening of restrictions, experts say.
Researchers believe that the new variants should be treated as separate epidemics. By adding them up with regular numbers, we are merely concealing the numbers of cases caused by the variants.
Some scientists believe that the corona virus will continue to exist in one form or the other. Presently, the best immediate measure is to prevent the spread of the dangerous variants and to vaccinate the vast majority of the world.