The WHO (World Health Organization) announced that it has changed the names of the many COVID variants and will no longer refer to such variants as the B.1.1.7 variant as the ’UK variant’, but will simply call it Alpha. This way no country will be identified as a country of origin and people will stop hating on them. They will now be identified by letters from the Greek alphabet, just like a college sorority or fraternity. Variants from Britain, South Africa, Brazil and India have all been replaced by letters that are non-descript.
In an effort to not bore you to the point of sleep, I will give you the layman’s version. COVID-19 has a genetic sequence, remember in Jurassic Park the animated worm like character that explained how they re-created dinosaurs by replicating DNA found in a sap-trapped mosquito, and then added some frog to fill in the gaps? No? Okay we’ll skip that part. COVID-19 is just like that though, a strand of genetic worm with a whole bunch of molecules stuck in a specific order. COVID-19 is an RNA strand, this stands for Ribonucleic acid, and works in conjunction with your DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), to produce proteins that your body uses to sustain life. Yes, I’m sure it does lots of other things, but the important part to know is that both DNA and RNA replicate themselves within your body. So, if you get infected with COVID, you will produce more of it because that is what RNA does. Most RNA’s are okay and your body uses them successfully to help you stay alive but the COVID RNA is not one of those. Its purpose is to attack your body and make you stop breathing. That is not a good thing.
A variant is a change in the sequencing of the RNA strand. This occurs as the RNA works towards being better at what its purpose is. In this case, the original COVID RNA, felt an uncontrollable need to get better at transmitting itself. It is why we were told that ‘Alpha’ spread more rapidly. It seems that the little spikes on that ugly little molecular strand, had changed and were now 56% better at latching on to a new host. This small change makes it a COVID variant.
A variant is quite natural in any RNA strand, it adapts to its surroundings, in order to survive. By the time that ‘Alpha’ had been identified as a variant, the gene sequencing showed 17 coding changes from the original COVID sequence. The RNA strand had changed 17 times by the time it found its way to an English pub! This didn’t happen all at once; it happened as the original infection made its way around the world, and altered itself as it went. If you remember one of those variations involved a Danish mink farm. But that strand didn’t survive long enough, or spread enough, for us to be naming it the ‘mink variant’.
The original COVID-19 RNA strand has changed to the point that it is no longer the dominant cause of COVID infection. Alpha and Delta have become more common around the world, with Beta and Gamma being pretty much regionalized. Ultimately, the bottom line is that they are all COVID-19, just dressed differently. They will all make you sick.
The thing about all life is that it evolves. It is always looking for a better way to survive. More variants will arise as COVID looks for its path, so don’t be surprised to hear scientists start talking about Epsilon, Zeta and Iota, the one that originated on a Miami beach during spring break. There will be more variants in the future and eventually, given enough time, one of those variants will become the vaccine beating kind.
This is important to understand, because we have nothing but vaccines to hang our hat on. In case you hadn’t noticed, there is still no effective way to treat COVID once you have it. If you feel sick, you’re still being told to go home, lock yourself in a room, and don’t come out for fourteen days. If it gets to a point that you can’t breathe, go to the hospital and they’ll hook you up to some O2 or a ventilator. Treatment pretty much ends there and from that point on, you have to ride it out.
The only sure way to beat this thing is to not get it. How do we do that? By getting vaccinated. A couple of pokes in the arm has got to be better than tubes stuck up your nose. People need to get it done, not just in my country but globally. That’s 5.39 billion doses that need to get in arms to hit 70% of the world’s population. Twice!! It does no good to have just my country vaccinated, if other countries are not. People travel. It’s why the original strain appeared all over the world at virtually the same time. It took a plane!
The vaccines are really the only defence we have against COVID and its litter of Greek alphabet puppies. Getting doses of vaccines to all parts of the globe is the only way we have to getting our lives back. There are many countries that have yet to receive any vaccines. They wait while the wealthiest countries take care of their own. This I understand, but when their population starts to be hesitant about getting the vaccine, ship them to another country immediately. The vaccines, not the people (Honey might disagree with that). The wealthy countries need to step up. Every country with a surplus, need to divest themselves of their stash! Even a million doses would be enough for some countries to completely inoculate their population! Places like, Belize, Guadalupe, Brunei, Iceland, could be completely protected from COVID with one shipment of the excess that other countries are holding.
If globally 70% of the population gets vaccinated that still leaves 2.31 billion anti-vaccers with the ability to spread COVID-19. Is it my fault that 72 million of them live in the United States??!! Send their doses to the WHO to distribute, rather than wait and see if someone changes their mind! They’re not going to!! You don’t need to have enough vaccines to inoculate your entire country!! Even being optimistic, 20% of your population isn’t going to show up!! Give their shots to other countries!! Stop waiting for the Republicans to change their minds!! It’s never going to happen!!! Send those doses to people that want them!! Every country is going to face the same problem, 20%-30% of their population are not going near a vaccine. Accept it and disperse the vaccine.
Does that bother me? That 2 billion people will be un-vaccinated? Yes, to some extent it does. Those 30% have the ability to cause variants to develop, and one day a new Greek-named sorority chapter may open that will beat the vaccines. Right now vaccines are getting the job done on all COVID infections, this may not last forever. Our opportunity is now. We need to get the world vaccinated and not pledge a sorority or fraternity. This is one of those times when you have total control of your life. It doesn’t happen often, take advantage of it.