Home Health COVID-19 Variants of concern top of mind for BC’s top doctor

Variants of concern top of mind for BC’s top doctor

We're beyond the second wave. New phase requires vaccine adaptation to keep up with variants, and continued public resolve to keep up with distancing and masks, which hobble our social and economic choices.

Tuesday February 9, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

Editorial Analysis | by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends

In yesterday’s COVID_19 media update by Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry, she not only referred to the COVID variants B117 and B1351 as ‘variants of concern’, she truly sounded concerned — over and above all the other major concerns of the ongoing pandemic.

Those viral strains (mutations of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus aka COVID-19) as well as another first seen in Brazil and one causing infection closer to home in Los Angeles, California are increasingly seen or believed to be more virulent — i.e. more transmissible (contagious) and causing more serious illness.

The current mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are apparently adapting well to addressing the variants, but the AstraZeneca product (not yet approved for use in Canada) is apparently showing less efficacy against the variant in South Africa (where use of that vaccines is now suspended).

COVID-19, B.1.1.7, UK variant
The B.117 and B.1351 variants of the COVID-19 virus are more contagious.

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be taking a turn past being a second wave, to entering an entirely new phase that requires two key things.

  • The first requirement is on the science side of things, i.e. adaptation of vaccines and immunization programs to keep pace with the variants of the virus.
  • The other requirement is for government leadership to try and maintain the resolve of the citizenry to stay committed to the public health measures (such as physical distancing, masks, and household-only socializing) that help prevent viral spread but have increasingly cumulative social and economic impacts.
BC CDC, COVID, BC, Feb 08 2021
COVID cases dashboard for all of BC, showing cases by day, to February 8, 2021. [BC CDC]

While the number of daily cases has fallen to a relative ‘low’ of 300s into the low to mid 400s, what is there to get used to about that? Just over a year ago there were zero cases, before COVID-19 hit.

This is not something to become used to. COVID-19 is a serious health emergency that has put society into a longstanding war mode — all decisions and actions by government, communities and individuals must take COVID into account. The ramifications are not just for today, but every choice made differently takes the mid-term and long-term of our lives into new directions.

As a society and as the human species we have no choice but to adjust to the reality that there is a new virus on this planet, which appears ready to take up permanent residence. Only full immunization globally will eradicate COVID-19 (similar to what was achieved with smallpox only a few decades ago).

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