Things to Know About the Covid-19 Variants

Yesterday January 26th, the global count of Covid-19 cases topped 100 million, with the United States still in the lead for the most cases. The rate of infection looks to be slowing for the US, but CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta warns that the worst days of the pandemic are far from behind us. 

According to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University, almost 25.5 million people in the US have been infected with Covid-19 and 426,000 have died as a result of the virus. Concerns for the fate of coronavirus in the US are growing as new variants have begun to spread. The P.1 variant from Brazil and B.1.1.7 strain from the United Kingdom have both been identified in the United States, and emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen worries that any progress with the virus could be erased if the variants continue to spread.

A research study from the Centre for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases suggests the B.1.1.7 variant to be 56% more contagious than the general SARS-CoV-2 strain. However, the US has also developed its own variant of Covid-19 in California, which allegedly accounts for 25% of current cases.

The fate of these variants remain unsure, but Dr. Gigi Gronvall of the John Hopkins Center for Health Security suggests people think twice about partaking in activities that expose them to people outside their household, such as traveling or outdoor dining. In addition, one expert advises now upgrading your mask by doubling up on cloth masks or using a mask similar to the N95 like a KN95 or KF94.

Last week US President Joe Biden put forth a plan to tackle Covid-19, with a heavy emphasis on vaccinations. The president stated on Tuesday that it will most likely be months before the majority of Americans get vaccinated, so masks are a must for staying protected against Covid-19 and its new variants.

Information regarding the vaccines and coronavirus variants is developing each day, but one thing that remains the same is the need for masks. Due to the uncertainty of the new strain, it may be a good idea to double up on masks, upgrade to something such as the KN95, and maybe even top your mask off with a face shield. 

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