The CCP virus that originated in China is now spreading through more than half of the U.S. states, as winter takes hold and experts are warning of new highly contagious variants.
The number of infection cases has surpassed 24 million as of Monday, and the national death toll is approaching 400,000.
In Los Angeles, one of the new variants was discovered on Saturday and appeared to be the same as the one in Great Britain, which is thought to be 50 percent more contagious. L.A. County is experiencing one death from the virus every seven minutes.
In Ohio, researchers have discovered another two variants and say they are not surprised. To stop the virus from changing, we first need to control its spread.
“The only way to [stop emergence of new variants] is to stop the spread of the virus,” said Ben Bimber, a research professor at Oregon Health and Science University, reports NBC News.
“Every time the virus replicates, it’s an opportunity to mutate,” he said. “If there’s more people infected, there’s simply more virus out there, and it has more opportunities to mutate.”
Once the virus is on board the human body, it invades the cells, replicating itself.
“Every time the virus copies itself, there’s a chance to introduce errors,” Bimber said. “If the virus is replicating in people, it will slowly accumulate mutations.”
Researchers are not sure how the two variants recently identified in Ohio will affect the virus’s behavior.
Dr. Dan Jones, the vice-chair of the division of molecular pathology at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said he believes vaccination is the key to preventing the virus’s spread and lowering the risk of variants from the virus emerging.
“The larger your pool of [susceptible] patients, the more possibility for a mutation to survive and emerge,” he said. “It has to pass from person to person, so if you’re not getting a lot of infection in the population [because of vaccination], then even an important mutation may just peter out because the person who was infected doesn’t transmit the virus to anyone else.”
Even “having an optimally fit, pathogenic change in the virus doesn’t do any good if it keeps meeting a wall of vaccinated people,” Jones added.
The variants discovered in Ohio were not brought into the country, but have developed locally, say researchers.
However, vaccines are not for everyone. In Norway, there are serious concerns about the Pfizer vaccine being administered to the elderly after the number of deaths following the first dose went to 29.
The age group that has been affected has been lowered from 80 to 75 years of age.
There have been at least 13 people in Israel who have suffered facial paralysis after being given the Pfizer vaccine. A month ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported similar symptoms but claimed they had no connection to the vaccine.
In the United States, it is not just the Pfizer vaccine causing problems, but also the Moderna, and to date, 55 people have died after receiving the first dose.