The coronavirus variants stirred a conversation in the scientific community after they appeared in different parts of the world. The major concern at the moment for the health experts is the delta variant spreading rapidly in almost 92 countries. This highly contagious mutant emerged in India and traveled to other countries within a short span. As these mutant strains continue to spread, many people wonder how they arise in the first place.
All viruses can evolve and mutate when they are present in the body of a host. These mutations arise as the virus spreads further and infects other people. According to a viral disease expert, Dr. Penny Moore, from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, the variants emerge when the virus stays in the host for a long time. She mentioned that when the viruses deal with the immune response of the body for a long time, they evolve and form variants.
In some cases, if the immune response of the host is damaged, the virus gains the opportunity to survive for a long time in the body. During this period, the strain mutates itself to fight immunity more efficiently. Sometimes, people with autoimmune diseases take some drugs that suppress immunity. In this way, the virus forms a variant different from the strain that entered the host in the first place.
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According to health experts, getting fully vaccinated can minimize the chance of forming new coronavirus variants. As the number of infections decreases, the virus gets a lower chance to mutate itself in the host. Right now, the only way to control the pandemic is the coronavirus vaccines available in the US and all across the world. These vaccines showed efficacy in keeping the number of infections low over the past months. Also, they can help eliminate the variants as more people get vaccinated.
The spokesperson of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the coronavirus vaccines in he US offer protection against most variants. Meanwhile, some coronavirus variants can cause signs of illness in those who received the vaccines.
Dr. Penny Moore mentioned that the natural immune response of the body immediately identifies the coronavirus. This overwhelming response causes the virus to mutate itself so it can escape this antibody response. She also mentioned that most of the vaccine available in the US trigger an even stronger immune response against the coronavirus. These mRNA vaccines showed the signs of a broad immunity in many studies.
Moore also said that the vaccines such as Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson trigger the body to produce a massive amount of antibodies against the coronavirus. There are chances that these antibodies can not only tackle the original strain but the coronavirus mutants as well.
Unvaccinated people are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus variants. Those who received their first dose and missed their second dose are also more likely to contract these variants. According to the CDC nearly 10% of the Americans missed their second dose of the vaccine. Since they do not have complete immunity against the virus, they can transmit these variants in their communities.