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New strains of the coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, which first emerged in the U.K., South Africa, and Brazil have now appeared in the United States. These new strains are more transmissible than the original strain of COVID-19 and are predicted to become the dominant circulating strains in the United States. Although not much is known about these strains, doctors are seeking to learn more about the ease at which these strains spread, the seriousness of the illness they cause, and whether the vaccine works against these new strains.
“I think the new strand of COVID-19 is much more widespread than is being reported because we have only done DNA sequencing on a small number of people,” said Dr. Jose Vargas, a South Florida medical specialist. “By all indications it is more contagious, but we still do not definitely know if it leads to more severe disease.”
For now, Florida has only confirmed cases involving the U.K. variant, but this news has frightened many residents, including eighth grader Isabella Antorcha, who has already been infected once by the original strain.
“I am very scared that these new strains are in the United States as I do not want to get infected again,” said Antorcha. “I am most worried that the natural immunities from having the original strain will not work against these new strains. Having the virus was not a good experience for me, so I could not imagine getting infected again.”
Others worry about catching the new strain of the virus including those who have received the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccination was originally designed to help protect people against the original strain of COVID-19, but many are worried that this vaccine won’t protect patients from new strains. Although the vaccine does appear to be effective against these new strains, researchers continue monitoring to assure that this is the case.
“I recently got the COVID-19 vaccine. I was very excited to get this vaccine, as it would protect me against the virus and lower the risks which come with getting infected,” said Aliza Luft, a vaccine recipient. “Now that there are new strains, I am extremely worried as I am not sure if the vaccine will protect me against these new strains.”
Overall, more and more cases of the new strains are appearing in the United States daily, leaving many worried and leaving doctors researching in hopes of learning more about the new strains.