The Covid-19 virus is telling us it is going to throw out lots of mutations. These random mutations of the RNA virus are part of evolution and are to be expected. But it's creating variants of Covid-19 that are spreading in communities and making it harder to end the pandemic. Currently there are three variants that are circulating globally. The UK variant, the South African variant and the Brazil variant.
In California we are looking at 2 California variants that are of concern. In LA the homegrown California variant will be about 90% of all Covid cases. And it seems we are spreading this California variant to our friends in Maui too.
The California variant has 3 mutations on the spike protein that make it more infectious. It also may be more resistant to treatment (for instance monoclonal antibodies) but we don't know for sure. Like the other variants it shows a slight decrease in vaccine performance, but our current Moderna and Pfizer vaccines still work quite well in providing immunity. The South African variant doesn't seem to have any affect on disease severity but it is quite contagious and it might make people more susceptible to reinfection with Covid. The South African variant has been found in at least 25 states.
What do we do about this? There is no way to stop natural evolution, which is what these mutations are, but we do have modern science and vaccines. We must get more people vaccinated. When there is less Covid virus floating around in the community there is nothing to mutate. I'm rather furious at people who won't get the vaccine. Even if the vaccine is only 10% effective ( instead of 85-90% as it currently is), it cuts down on transmission of disease and protects all of us. Anti-vaxers, political deniers, stupid people, anti-science people are hurting our economy, our lives and our children who are missing out on education and socialization. I can't stress this enough! President Biden's push to vaccinate all adults by Independence Day is the right focus. When I read that Americans are refusing to be vaccinated it is very discouraging and it underscores that they do not understand this virus and how it behaves. When health professionals decline the vaccine, I believe they should get out of health care and find a new occupation. Or just get off the Earth.
For now, we must continue to wear masks in public places. We need to avoid large gatherings because there are still people who have not had the vaccine. At home, with family and friends fully vaccinated, masks are not needed. Grandparents can hug their grandchildren without masks. This is progress. If you have family or friends that are avoiding vaccine, please talk with them and ask them to do it for you. For all of us.