By Jackie Deal
Ahh-chew! “Doggone cold. It’s my third one this year”. We can send a man to the moon, why can’t we find a cure for the common cold? Did you know that your common cold is related to Covid 19? Covid is caused by the “the family of viruses that cause the common cold.” The virus causing Covid first appeared in 2003 as SARS CoV-2. SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. (A syndrome is just a collection of symptoms.) SARS confined itself mainly to foreign countries so we weren’t too affected. And peace reigned until 2019.
Since then we’ve heard about Covid strains, variants, RNA, mutations and other garbage and does any of it make sense? Let’s see if we can make a wee bit of sense out of it. (Most of the info’ that follows was taken from articles by CDC and reputable hospital sites, e.g. Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Hospital, and John Hopkins etc.)
Let’s put SARS to bed first. The genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 is RNA. RNA stands for ribonucleic acid. CoV-2 is a nasty little bum; it “hijacks a host cell”. Host that’s you and duplicates itself. Sometimes errors occur in this duplication process and this causes a mutation. Viruses with mutations are called variants. A variant is called a strain when it shows “distinct physical properties”. That is, it is “built differently and behaves differently from the original.”
We get all upset because Covid has gone through so many variants, over “50 mutations” so far. Thank goodness, we haven’t heard about all of them. Scientists classify variants this way:
Variants of Interest: these have “greater transmissibility, evasion of immunity or cause more serious disease” . In other words they spread easier, they don’t respond to vaccinations as well and they do cause serious disease.
Next up: Variants of Concern: they are more infectious, more likely to break through vaccinations, and more likely to cause severe disease. These include: alpha, beta, gamma, delta and omicron. Now add omicron’s variants: B.1.1. 529, B.A.1, BA.1.1., BA.2, BA3, BA4, BA5! (There will be a test on all this at the end!)
And one more: Variants of High Consequence: variants for which vaccines do NOT provide protection. Fortunately, as of this time, there are none of these!
“Breakthrough infections in people who are vaccinated are expected.” So why bother?? A March 2022 study from CDC showed that people “who had received 2 or 3 of the vaccinations had a 90% reduction in risk of hospital ventilation or death”. In short, unless you really want to try being on a ventilator: get vaccinated.
John Hopkins Medicine says, “it is the nature of RNA viruses such as Corona to evolve and change. For example the flu virus changes often, which is why doctors recommend you get a new flu vaccine every year.” Will we have to put up with Covid variants and new vaccines? Yes, of course, it’s its “nature”. So hang in there, colds, flu, Covid: fight ‘em and don’t give up!