Re-Strategizing with a New Covid Strain
I want to shed some light on the fact that the scientists of 2020 have turned into unsung heroes. When the pandemic hit, I can assure you that everyone in the scientific world had their wheels turning to figure out how COVID-19 would affect their current research and, in many instances, how the mystery of COVID-19 could be solved. In just one year, they were able to not only solve this mystery but remarkably create several other vaccines along the way. I want to refer back to one of the more recent pandemics we’ve experienced, the AIDS pandemic. Where it took over four years to find out how a person contracted it. The difference is in funding, advancements in technology, and the amount of scientific manpower working on the problem. The point is, the work of these brilliant scientists has been extraordinary and even more reason we owe it to them to understand the science behind the vaccines and how to protect ourselves going forward, even though you may already be vaccinated.
The new strains of COVID-19 have already been detected in South Florida. What does that mean? Basically, it means they are variations of the virus that makes it easier for people to contract. With so many people having developed antibodies from previous infections of COVID-19 as well as receiving a vaccine, I’ve noticed that not many people continue to wear their masks or maintain social distancing. I think the belief is that if you have the vaccine, you no longer have anything to worry about. But the truth is, we still have a long way to go until we are in the clear and I’ll do my best to recount the conversation I had with my husband last night to explain it.
Initially, the same things happen when a vaccinated and unvaccinated person encounters the virus. It enters their body and for a certain amount of time (4-7 days) it starts building up inside the body. If the infected person has antibodies from a vaccine or from a previous COVID-19 illness, those antibodies will attack the virus and kill it off in a shorter amount of time and without many symptoms since the antibodies have been “programmed” to go after the virus. In this time frame the infected person, whether vaccinated or not, is contagious and can unknowingly continue to spread the virus to those who do not have antibodies yet. Seeing that we are going through a mass vaccination plan we should continue to live under the same practices until the population has reached a level of herd immunity.
What is exactly is herd immunity? All it means is that society reaches a certain percentage of people that have been vaccinated to stop the spread from being at pandemic levels. Why does that matter? There will still be a percentage of the population that have not yet been approved to receive the vaccine. Quite frankly, it is a more precarious job to see if and how children and individuals with severe allergic reactions and other health issues will react to the vaccine, so more time is needed to fully comprehend any potential side effects.
In the meantime, we should revel in the advancements that have been made, mask up, and just be a bit more patient. For me, it meant having to re-strategize my approach to pod learning for my first-grade daughter. It pained me to explain to her that she was going to have to go through another time where we’re limited to interacting solely with our close-knit family again. Having to figure out the logistics for four families and two sets of teachers was just too much stress and risk so our little one could safely have social interactions with other kids. I’ll go ahead and throw in there that children of the disabled population have also become little unsung heroes, having to adapt to a situation they likely can’t fully wrap their heads around yet. There is a level of empathy that can only be taught by experience and my little one navigates those waters as a pro. She assured me it would be ok because we would all be safe. Some other changes our family has made is to take fewer trips to public spaces. We have only ventured to the grocery store, UPS and the like since March of last year. That said, we have been wearing medical grade masks since the very start of the pandemic. If you are not wearing masks or limiting social interactions, those would be simple changes you could make that would ultimately protect yourself (and others) more effectively until vaccinations prove they can fight the new Covid strain.