It has been almost two years since the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our daily lives. It’s been almost two years, and we’re still not sure when this pandemic will end.
Unfortunately, coronavirus variants continue to mutate and evolve into new variants. There are times that new variants disappear and others become more diverse and persistent.
These new emerging variants are quite concerning and alarming, especially during this ongoing pandemic that we are experiencing. Scientists and experts are continuously working together to figure out the impact of these new strains on humans. Read further and learn about the new COVID variants and how to cope with the stress brought about by the situation.
Many studies have named these emerging new variants of COVID-19. They monitor how these variants behave and how quickly they spread. Scientists have also been developing newer vaccines for the variants.
Viral mutations are usually unexpected. A variant known as B.1.1.7 was first detected in the United Kingdom, accounted for 60% of COVID-19 cases in December, and became a predominant variant in other countries. This is because new variant strains have a more rapid and efficient transmission.
Another variant detected in the US known as B.1.351, which initially appeared in South Africa, can re-infect patients who have already recovered from COVID-19. These variants somehow developed a resistance to existing COVID-19 vaccines. This variant is associated with an increased number of deaths compared to other virus strains.
The P.1 gamma variant of SARS-Cov-2 was first detected in Japan, although the strain was initially identified in Brazil. It caused a deadly surge of cases in Brazil.
This variant is composed of E484k, N501Y, and K417T mutation. This Brazilian variant has enhanced compatibility with our body’s ACE2 receptor and transmits faster.
With the frightening surge of diseases and deaths brought about by COVID-19, the mere thought of it mutating into a new form sounds scary. It is natural for a virus to mutate, especially if they contain RNA as genetic material.
As the virus infects one of our healthy cells, they can multiply or make copies. Mutation happens when there is an error that occurs during the replication process. When this virus mutates, new strains and variants are created.
The SARS-Cov-2 virus infects the body as it enters the healthy cells. The spike protein of the virus attaches itself to the receptors of the healthy cells, especially in the lungs. It creates a copy inside the cell and continues to multiply throughout the body.
When the protein of the virus enters the cell, it takes control and eradicates some of the healthy cells. The lower part of the respiratory tract has more ACE2 receptors where the virus spike protein latches onto, so COVID-19 gets more rooted into the system than common viruses such as common colds.
- COVID-19 is transmitted through droplets, fomites, and contact when a person sneezes or coughs. The virus gets inhaled by another person and becomes infected.
- The virus mainly spreads quickly with closer contact or within a 1-meter range. It could also spread to people in a closed, air-conditioned room without proper ventilation.
- Infection can also happen after touching a surface with contaminated droplets and touching your mouth, eyes, and nose without proper handwashing.
As the new variants of COVID-19 circulate in the human population, the chances of mutating increase. Factors like the rate of transmission and incubation periods also change. This sends panic to everyone.
Current vaccines involve various cells and antibodies that bring out an enormous immune response against the virus. Newly developed COVID-19 vaccines are expected to protect people against the new variants.
Scientists and researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ensure the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines in preventing severe illnesses brought about by the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaccines also reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Those who have already received the vaccine are monitored under the supervision of the CDC.
The Brazilian and South African Coronavirus variants are mutated in a way that their protein spike escapes the T-cell antibody neutralization. T-cell immunity is the body’s defense mechanism against the coronavirus. The T-cell of a person depends on his immune response and the composition of his HLA genes.
Since B.1.351 variants can dodge the body’s immune system, scientists conducted more studies. They found out that the same variant triggers antibodies that fend off older variants of the coronavirus. Ongoing research suggests that it is possible that our vaccines can cope with the old, new, and future SARS-Cov-2 variants.
Warnings on the Mutated Coronavirus Variants
There is not much proof that these new variants are different from the old ones, suggesting that preventive methods stay the same.
- If you have not received the vaccine yet, it is strictly advisable to wear masks and face shields even indoors in public places.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people and avoid being in close contact with sick people. Keep in mind that some people are asymptomatic or a carrier who could easily spread the virus.
- Continue to stay at home and avoid the chance of being exposed to new variants.
- Cut down the size of your social bubble so that you can manage for easier contact tracing.
- Infections are mostly acquired through outdoor contacts. Limiting your time outdoors reduces your risk of being infected with new coronavirus variants.
- Also, avoid crowded social gatherings, especially when it involves singing and vocal participation since it can lead to an extensive spread of infection.
- Practice proper handwashing or apply hand sanitizers. Keep a bottle of sanitizer and disinfect your hands as often as possible, especially after touching public surfaces such as ATMs and public chairs.
- Get vaccinated. Vaccines are safe and effective in protecting you from the virus.
Strengthening your immune system increases your chance of surviving your battle against coronavirus. Our body has antibodies that protect us from bacteria and viruses from reaching major organs such as the brain, heart, and lungs.
Boost your immune system with proper nutrition. Eating foods such as oranges, broccoli, and strawberries rich in vitamin C protects your body by nourishing and fortifying antibodies that fight against infection.
Vitamin D is critical for immune function as it enhances immune responses by improving the function of the immune cells, including the T-cells, to protect us against pathogens. Foods rich in vitamin D are salmon, bread, cereals, and fortified milk.
Coping with the New COVID-19 Strains
More and more people have received the vaccine from different companies such as Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson&Johnson to protect themselves from the new strains of the coronavirus. These vaccines help develop immunity against new COVID variants. After taking the vaccine, the body produces antibodies that improve our immune responses to fight COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused most of us severe stress and anxiety. Being correctly informed by watching the latest news and update regarding the latest COVID variants and vaccines could help ease our minds and lessen our doubts about surviving these difficult times.
Emotional and Mental Coping During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Overcoming these waves of the pandemic due to gradual discoveries and surges of new strains of the variant has caused an emotional and mental dilemma. Economic regression has affected us negatively and caused more difficulties and barriers in patients who already have an underlying illness.
The closure of learning facilities and social distancing has caused depression in younger generations. Researchers have reported that suicide and substance abuse rates are soaring because of the economic downturn and general distress brought about by the pandemic.
Each of us reacts differently under stress. We also have different coping strategies. Here are some tips to protect your mental health during the pandemic:
- Assess your mental health even in isolation. To prevent mental health decline, try focusing on your thoughts or changes with your behavioral pattern during self-isolation. Have a short self-evaluation of your mind and body to make sure that you are still mentally fit.
- Get in touch with your loved ones, even just through phone calls and social media. Do not completely isolate yourself from the people you love and the outside world.
- Try to avoid “fake news” by reading only from reputable sources of information such as newspapers and official health websites.
- When in quarantine, take care of your mental health. Wake up and sleep at the same time every day, eat healthy foods, exercise, and don’t watch too much TV.
- Have your own financial plan. A lot of us have lost our jobs due to the viral outbreak. Having a budget at home won’t hurt and could help you stretch your savings for the rainy days.
Are You Emotionally and Mentally Exhausted Because of the Pandemic?
We are all told to boost our immune system, wash our hands, stay at home, and be healthy during this pandemic. These are all important in taking care of your physical health. But what about your mental health?
As the world continues to heal, all we can do is take care of our physical and mental health. If you’re experiencing a mental health decline, whether it’s due to isolation, separation anxiety, or depression, talk to a counselor at Kentucky Counseling Center today. Schedule an appointment now and enjoy the perks of online mental health counseling.