Mutated COVID-19 version spreads across the US

Medical experts say the most dominant The form of COVID-19 currently spreading in the United States appears to be spreading faster than previous variants or versions. Besides, it might be better to escape immunity and can cause more serious illness.

Scientists say the “subvariant” now spreading is a . is mutation genetically linked to both the Omicron and Delta versions of COVID-19. Both versions have been dominant in the US in the past. The new virus form has a genetic quality that stems from the past of the pandemic. It is known as a “Delta Mutation”.

dr. Wesley Long is an infectious disease expert at Houston Methodist in Texas. He said it appears to allow the virus “to escape pre-existing immunity to vaccination and” prior infection, especially if you were infected in the Omicron wave.” It is believed that the mutation has a better chance of escaping immunity because the previous Omicron variant did not have it.

The current variant spreading in the US, known as BA.2.12.1, was responsible for about 58 percent of US COVID-19 infections a week ago.

FILE - A sign points to a COVID testing site at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cincinnati, January 3, 2022.

FILE – A sign points to a COVID testing site at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cincinnati, January 3, 2022.

There are other types of Omicron viruses that have the mutation. Two in South Africa, known as BA.4 and BA.5, have the same genetic mutation as delta. And BA.2.12.1 has one that is almost the same.

This genetic change could pose problems for people who received the first Omicron version and thought they were unlikely to get COVID-19 again any time soon. Most people are not sure what kind of coronavirus caused their illness. But the first Omicron version caused a huge wave of cases late last year and early this year.

Long said lab data suggest that a previous infection with the first Omicron is not very protective against reinfection with the new mutations. However, a study by Ohio State University researchers found that those who had Delta may have some immunity to the new viruses.

dr. Shan-Lu Liu co-wrote the study. He said the degree of protection a Delta infection provides depends in part on how long ago a person had been sick. That’s because immunity wanes over time.

Long advises that people who have become sick with Delta should not consider themselves fully protected against the new subvariants, especially if they have not been vaccinated. He said, “I wouldn’t say anyone is safe.”

FILE - Vials for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are on display at a temporary clinic in Exeter, NH on Thursday, February 25, 2021. The Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. 19 vaccine for people 50 and older, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

FILE – Vials for the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are on display at a temporary clinic in Exeter, NH on Thursday, February 25, 2021. The Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. 19 vaccine for people 50 and older, Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Liu said booster shots can provide strong protection against the new strains of COVID-19. Overall, vaccines and previous infections can protect people from the worst effects of COVID-19. But Liu added that early data points to more serious disease with the new mutants. Scientists say it’s too early to know if the versions will lead to higher hospitalizations and deaths.

While home testing makes it difficult to track all U.S. COVID cases, data from Johns Hopkins University shows they average nearly 107,000 per day. That’s over 87,000 two weeks ago. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of people entering hospital with COVID-19 has increased since mid-April.

Long said, “I’m hopeful we don’t see a similar increase in hospitalizations as in previous waves.” He added: “But with COVID, every time there are a lot of people infected, it’s just a numbers game. Some of those people will be serious. Some of those people need to be hospitalized. some of them, Unfortunatelyshall die

I’m Gregory Stachel.

The Associated Press reported this story. Greg Stachel adapted the story for English learning.

Words in this story

dominant – adj. the most important or most important

immunity – n. be protected against contracting a disease

mutate – v. to change (a gene) and create an unusual trait in a plant or animal

prior – adj. existing earlier in time

booster shot – n. an extra amount of a substance (called a vaccine) injected into a person or animal with a needle to help protect against a certain disease

Unfortunately – app. used to say that something bad or unfortunate has happened

die – v. die

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