The COVID-19 global pandemic began in 2020 and continues one year later. But now we are fighting a different battle: new strains of the coronavirus. But will the recent vaccines protect against these strains? Should you wait to get the new vaccine when there is more development? Read below to learn these answers and more.
Will the current vaccines protect me from COVID-19?
According to NPR and the White House, “Important new strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — the "variants" you're hearing about — have been identified in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), Brazil (P.1) and South Africa (B.1.351), and all three have now been found in the U.S. as well.”
Those variants are more infectious than the original strain and researchers in the U.K. have said B.1.1.7 may be more lethal.
Scientists' concern right now is mostly with the P.1 variant. It has a worrying cluster of mutations that allow the virus to spread more quickly. This means that people who have already had COVID-19 may still be at risk and vulnerable to reinfection with the new strain. But the vaccines are effective against the base virus, leaving room for improvement and restructuring for the new strains.
Early investigations suggest that the current vaccines, as well as Johnson & Johnson's candidate vaccine, may be somewhat less effective against some of the new variants, in terms of preventing all symptoms.
Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 mutate all the time, notes Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and that is another reason to get people fully immunized as quickly as possible.
"Viruses cannot mutate if they can't replicate," Fauci said Monday at a press conference by the White House's COVID-19 response team. "If you stop their replication by vaccinating widely ... not only are you going to protect individuals from getting disease, but you are going to prevent the emergence of variants."
Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of avoiding COVID-19?
Anthony Fauci and Rochelle Walensky, chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), both recommend getting immunized with one of the vaccines authorized in the U.S. as soon as you are eligible. Widespread vaccination will help stop the spread of whatever strains of the coronavirus are circulating in your area and lessen the development of new mutations and strains.
Please continue to keep your distance from people outside your household, wear a mask, and avoid travel and crowds even after you are fully vaccinated, until the level of the virus spreading in your community and any place you go is extremely low.
Should I wait on vaccination until I can get one of those updated shots?
Definitely not. Vaccine experts are clear about the need for everyone to get fully immunized as soon as we are eligible this year. "We need to vaccinate as many people as we can as quickly as we can," says Fauci. That will help prevent further dangerous mutations and strains from arising.
Learn More About COVID-19 and Updates with the Virus
At Bass Urgent Care, we know that keeping your family safe in this pandemic is important. Give us a call today at (925) 350-4044 for more information about the vaccine and when you can receive it.