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George J. Ziogas

If Enough People Get Vaccinated, Will Covid Become A Non-Issue?

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George J. Ziogas
George J. Ziogas
 16 days ago

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Throughout the world, many people are getting vaccinated against Covid. After over a year of following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on social distancing, wearing a mask, and handwashing, is it possible that if enough people get vaccinated, Covid will become a non-issue? While it’s possible, there are several concerns about this outcome.

Herd Immunity

Not everyone likely can or will get vaccinated against Covid. However, scientists believe that herd immunity, if reached, would make Covid a non-issue for the majority of the population.

Studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) describe herd immunity as when a significant number of the population has either had a disease or been vaccinated. Known as a threshold, this point is different for each disease, depending on how contagious it is. According to a study in the journal Nature, scientists estimate the herd immunity threshold for Covid at 60%-70%.

A virus like Covid needs a place to reproduce. The Covid virus multiplies in the human body and spreads through droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. If enough people can’t get Covid because they are immune, the virus will lose its place to reproduce and could eventually die off and disappear. Herd Immunity was successful in eradicating smallpox in the 1970s.

Variants

Viruses mutate. According to the textbook Medical Microbiology, the genes contained in a virus can change through mutation and recombination. Errors in the viral genome cause mutations. When two viruses exchange genetic information, recombination occurs. According to a Journal of Virology study, some viruses, like HIV, can mutate significantly in a single day.

When the HIV was exposed to anti-viral medication, it quickly mutated so that the medication was ineffective in destroying it. Other variants do not change a virus enough to make it substantially different from the original version.

Mutations are known as variants. Variants can make a virus easier to spread from person to person and make people sicker than the original virus. Variants can also cause a virus to resist medications used to treat it or create new symptoms to the disease.

The CDC classifies variants as either a:

· Variant of Interest (VOI)

· Variant of Concern (VOC)

· Variant of High Consequence (VOHC)

Currently, five Covid variants have been identified in the United States. The CDC classifies all five as VOC.

The CDC defines the Covid variants as having the potential to cause:

· Increased spread

· More severe disease

· Natural antibody reduction

· Reduced vaccine effectiveness

· Reduced treatment effectiveness

· Difficulty in detection

Because the variants are new, researchers are studying the effect they might have on people exposed to the variant. Scientists have not yet determined if these variants will mutate the virus enough to make vaccines ineffective.

The five variants are:

· B.1.1.7- Identified in the US in December 2020- Initially detected in the UK

· B.1.351- Identified in the US at the end of January 2021- Initially detected in South Africa

· P.1- First detected in the US in January 2021- Initially identified in travelers from Brazil

· B.1.427 and B.1.429- First identified in California in February 2021

Viruses and variants are typically named after the place they were first discovered.

Time

Over time, the effectiveness of vaccines can fade. To maintain immunity, people may require a booster shot of a vaccine.

Doctors recommend booster shots for the following routine vaccinations:

· Measles, Mumps, Rubella

· Chickenpox

· HPV

· Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis

· Influenza

· Measles, Mumps, Rubella

· Chickenpox

· HPV

· Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis

· Influenza

Scientists state that it is too early to tell how long the Covid vaccines will remain effective. The first data from the clinical trials was published in July 2020, meaning those who received the vaccine during the clinical trial have had possible immunity for less than a year. The CDC monitors vaccine effectiveness and will continue to provide data on how long the Covid vaccines last.

With herd immunity, mild variants, and depending on how long the vaccine lasts, Covid could become a non-issue. Unfortunately, it’s too soon to determine if this will happen or not.

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