COVID-19 cases and deaths have been declining since January. However, new data suggest a slow decline and a possible stoppage in the decline altogether due to mutant strains.
As a virus reproduces, mutations occur and produce more or less dangerous forms of itself. These mutations have the possibility of being highly resistant or even immune to vaccines.
The Main Players
The first variation is called B.1.1.7. It comes from the United Kingdom and is more transmittable than the regular virus. It has merged with another variant to create B.1.429 in California.
A South African variation called B.1.351 or 20c/501Y.V2 is resistant to vaccines. The AstraZeneca vaccine proved ineffective at protecting volunteers from this strain. However, there is no indication that all vaccines are useless against B.1.351.
Although it may seem like everything is about to be back to normal, we all need to stay safe and be cautious. New mutations of COVID-19 are already shaking things up, and the last thing we need is more chaos.