With the newly FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine starting to roll out to frontline workers, hope is on the horizon. It’s still a short way out from reaching the remainder of the general public, but at least the tunnel is lighting up.
But as the world is rejoicing in their visions of normalcy returning to our disease battered planet, another dark and mysterious culprit is looming on the horizon. It would appear that one of the deadly virus’s distant cousins is looking for a place to settle in and take root.
Actually, it’s a mutated coronavirus offspring. The very word mutant brings to mind an array a slimy glazed eyes monsters with multiple appendages, but this one resembles its tiny droplet formed creator, only different.
Scientists in England, where the mutation was discovered, say that it is not uncommon for viruses to do this. As an example, they pointed to the many variants of the flu virus and how never before seen strains still show up on the radar from time to time.
Virus cells are much more intelligent than they’ve ever been given credit for. Once they become aware of no longer being effective at what they do, they don’t give up the fight. They adapt. They change. They mutate.
Someone at Pfizer must have leaked some information because it would seem as though COVID-19 is managing to stay one step ahead of its executor. Fortunately though, since things are not always as they appear, the newly discovered strain could prove harmless, but, it’s also way too early to start knocking on wood.
Generally speaking, when a virus mutates, it’s nothing more than a harmless tweak. They weren’t pleased with their appearance that day. But sometimes it’s done to attack humans in a new and different way they had not battle-geared up for. Usually, these new strains simply require a slight modification of an existing vaccine.
But this is not always a surefire bet. They can sometimes mutate themselves beyond all former recognition, sending scientists scurrying back to square one. Thus far there is no evidence of this wretched new variant being able to spread any more easily or being immune to the new vaccine.
Still, scientists in Great Britain are keeping an eye on the mutated strain for two concerning reasons. Because traces of the new strain or much higher where active coronavirus cases are in abundance, the current strain could be spitting these new mutated step-children out like sand in the Sahara.
If this is indeed the case, it would indicate that it was done in an effort to spread more easily. The virus is multiplying its troop strength with a new division trained in alternate methods of battle.
The second is that virus variants have been known to now and again hit the lottery. They find just the right victim to invade. Perhaps a world-traveling jet-setter or an avid believer in hoaxes who will unknowingly aid them in their deadly cause.
This past summer the United Kingdom suffered from an outbreak of the Spanish flu. It was brought into the country by people returning from vacation and it quickly multiplied. This is precisely why scientists are trying their best to isolate the new COVID-19 strain, but up until just recently, it was like trying to pick a single raindrop out of a hurricane.
This is no longer the case. Prof Nick Loman from the COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium, with worry, said, “It has a surprisingly large number of mutations, more than we would expect, and a few look interesting.” What he meant by interesting is anyone’s guess.
So for now, we wait. What else can we do? But there is a bright side. Those of you reading this have almost made it through 2020, and if you can do that, you can make it through anything.