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Pandemic is not over.

Pandemic is not over.

Pandemic is not over.

Pandemic is not over.  I know all of the news of vaccines may have caused a sigh of relief.  That sense of relief is premature.  A virus evolves as it infects more people and animals.  In most viruses like the common cold evolves into less virulent forms.  This does not seem to be the case with Covid-19.  I think a short explanation of how a virus infects the body is useful.

Fool me once

A virus is not alive as we understand life.  Humans, mammals, fish and plants reproduce sexually to ensure their offspring continue the species.  Viruses do not reproduce in this way.  A virus is nothing more than a shell and RNA.  The virus reproduces by entering a healthy cell implanting its RNA which causes the now infected cell to make copies of the virus before the cell dies.  A virus is able to infect healthy cells because our immune system has no memory of the Covid virus.  Yes our immune system learns by way of what is called B-memory cells.  These cells help the immune system make antibodies.  Without the ability to create antibodies we have no natural defense against the Covid-19 virus. Pandemic is not over.

Evolution in real time

Even If you do not believe in evolution, evolution believes in you.  As a virus infects more and more people the chance of the virus evolving (mutating) increases.  This is a natural occurrence because of the differences in each human and other species DNA.  The mutation that occurs as a virus evolves usually makes it less virulent.  Viruses do not want to kill the host (humans).  It is bad for the survival of the virus if there are no host to infect.  This not always the case.  Sometimes a virus will kill anyone that does not have some sort of natural immunity.  Think of polio or smallpox. Until scientists created vaccines the world suffered countless deaths from outbreaks of these viral diseases.  Fortunately these two viruses did not mutate significantly allowing for a vaccine to be developed.  This is not the case for Covid-19.

Covid-19 doing the unexpected

A virus starts mutating as soon as it infects a living creature.  As soon as the Chinese scientists sequenced the Covid-19 DNA other scientists around the world started seeing mutations in the virus.  In March of last year there were at least seven known variants of the Covid-19 virus.  Now there is the English variant that is more contagious but apparently less lethal.  The variant that is worrying scientists is the South African variant.  People studying this mutation of Covid are not sure if the current vaccine is effective against it.

What this means to you

As viruses mutate you are still at risk.  You are at risk for all of the potential short and long term effects of Covid-19. Do not assume that the vaccine is going to work against all the mutations.  The only way to minimize the odds of becoming infected is maintain social distancing and wear a mask around people that are not your immediate family.  As my wife tells me she does not want the guilt of passing the virus to my elderly parents potentially causing their deaths.  I hope you will be as unselfish as my wife.  As Smokey the Bear says “only you can prevent forest fires”.  This goes for Covid-19 as well.  Only you can stop the spread of Covid-19. Pandemic is not over.