How dangerous is the COVID-19 variant?

How dangerous is the COVID-19 variant?

At the start of 2020, many Americans had not even heard of coronavirus, much less been prepared for the ways it would affect their daily lives.

Now, more than a year later, people are eager to get the vaccines developed to combat the virus.

But there is a new variant that has ravaged the U.K. and is now present across the United States.

Does the COVID-19 variant mean we’re back to square one in our battle to defeat the pandemic? Dr. Minhaj Husain, infectious disease specialist at Aurora Health Care, is here to answer common questions about the COVID-19 variant.

What makes the variant different from the COVID-19 strain we’ve seen?

Variants develop as viruses evolve and mutate over the course of time. Similar to the slight changes we see year to year with influenza, COVID-19 has started to change. What’s different about the COVID variant is that it is much more contagious and more easily spread from one person to another.

How many variants are there?

It’s tough to say exactly how many variants there are, because this is how viruses behave, it’s possible that there are multiple COVID variants already present and this is the first variant that we’ve identified.

Is this variant more dangerous to people that get it?

While the variant is more contagious, data shows that it does not cause more severe symptoms in patients and is not any more lethal than the existing strain.

Are the current COVID-19 vaccines already in use effective against the known variants?

So far, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are proving to be equally as effective in protecting people from the COVID-19 and it’s known variants. So, if you’ve already gotten both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should be protected from it and any variants.

Is the variant detected by current COVID-19 tests?

Right now, it’s unknown. Researchers are looking to determine if COVID variants are detectable with the current viral tests. Since tests base a positive result off of genetic code from known COVID-positive patients, it’s unlikely that variants are detectable by existing testing methods.

How do we protect ourselves from the COVID-19 and its variants?

The best way to stay safe from COVID and its variants is the same. Wear a mask in public, maintain social distancing and wash your hands often. And, as vaccines become more available to patients and the community, it’s vitally important for all of us to get vaccinated. Vaccines are the ticket that will get us back to a sense of normalcy and are how we will beat COVID-19 together.

Check out our COVID-19 Info Center to learn more about the virus.


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  1. Is it not true that current vaccines, Pfizer & Moderna, are still in “testing” phase even though inoculations are being done around the world? What studies are being done that reveal the length of time antibodies are maintained in the individual?

  2. But Dr. Fauci said the other day that being vaccinated wasn’t the ticket to get us back to being normal? If the virus is still endemic in a population (even with a vaccine) and mutating at a rate which spins off several variants in a single year, then what is everyone’s definition of “defeating the virus”? Vaccines every 9 months for everyone everywhere? I don’t think anyone is on the same page with that answer.

  3. The vaccine would protect you but you can still be a carrier!!

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About the Author

Matt Queen
Matt Queen

Matt Queen, health enews contributor, is a communication coordinator at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee. He is a former TV sports anchor and journalist with extensive public relations experience across the health care spectrum. Outside of work, Matt enjoys watching sports (of course), cooking, gardening, golfing and spending time with his wife and two young children.