Mutated Strain of Covid-19

Isabel Wade

January 19, 2021

With vaccines for COVID-19 being administered to the public all over the world, Europe has faced a massive roadblock that is beginning to spread to other countries.
England went into lockdown on January 5th, 2021 when discoveries of a new, mutated strain of Covid-19 were found in Europe. The mutated strain is more contagious than the original strain of Coronavirus and is due to a difference in the S “spike” Protein.

The S “spike” Protein is found on the surface of the virus, with its main purpose being to gain entry into cells. With the original strain of Coronavirus, this protein would break off when trying to bind to a receptor. This receptor is called an ACE2 receptor, which are molecules that are found on various surfaces of cells throughout our body. The original S “spike” Protein is trying to bind to the ACE2 receptors found in our airways, but would normally most likely fail to do so. The new strain of COVID-19, scientifically known as the G614 by Scripps Researchers, makes it less likely for the mutated protein to break off from the ACE2 receptor, allowing for easier passage of the virus into our cells. This mutated protein makes the new strain ten times more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus strain, but does not make it any more or less deadly than its original counterpart.
This mutated strain was found in Europe and has sent many countries into lockdown, including England and France. The strain has found its way into the United States in California, Colorado, and most recently, Massachusetts has detected the new strain as well. Although there are two vaccines currently approved by the FDA and one on the horizon, unfortunately the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has become an issue due to mismanagement by the Trump Administration. Joe Biden’s vaccination plan relied on a stockpile of vaccines that the current administration declared were available, but word has just gotten out that there was no stockpile of either vaccine as promised. Operation Warp Speed was in charge of stockpiling second doses of the Pfizer vaccine but recently informed the public that they stopped this at the end of last year. While this won’t impact the people who are waiting for their second dose from getting it, it sure begs the question of how our government will repair the drastic mistakes that it’s made with the distribution of these vaccines.
In the meantime, to stop the spread, the people must continue to keep implementing the health and safety protocols that they have thus far. This includes but is not limited to, handwashing for twenty seconds or more, hand sanitizing, face coverings over the nose and under the chin, and staying six feet apart from others at all times. Along with this, only making necessary trips outside, such as to the grocery store or the doctors. If the public continues to follow CDC guidelines as the vaccine distribution issues are resolved, they can hope for a quicker return to normalcy than what is anticipated at this time.