COVID-19, Vaccine and Viral Mutations

It’s been over a year since the discovery of the SARS CoV-2 virus and we’re approaching the anniversary of it reaching pandemic status. Here in the US alone we’ve exceeded 400,000 deaths. Because viruses (virii?) don’t give a shit about politics, let’s avoid that altogether, ok?

Here’s the issue: we now have multiple vaccines. The problem is that we are still willfully infecting each other here in the US. Clearly, based on the actions of the past year, Americans fail to understand the danger of this and I’m not referring to the immediate danger of possible death.

Viruses mutate. However, they don’t mutate while floating about in aerosols or resting on a door knob. Viruses mutate once they’ve infected you and your hijacked cells begin to replicate the virus, the result of random errors in the genetic code of the virus that happen during replication. This happens with the influenza virus and is why a new flu vaccine is released every year. To get ahead of it and have a vaccine ready for the season, virologists make well-informed guesses as to how the flu virus will mutate and develop a vaccine for that. This is why some years the vaccine is ineffective and more people get ill, and die, from the flu than in other years.

The more we transmit the COVID-19 virus, through social interaction and spreading by direct contact and shared air saturated with aerosols, the more opportunities for the virus to mutate. Eventually, there will be enough DNA mutation where the vaccines currently out are unable to simulate, and thus stimulate our immune systems, to defend against what has essentially become a new virus.

Limiting the spread helps to ensure the efficacy of the current vaccine. Once we’re able to stop it’s spread, through a combination of pockets of herd immunity and social distancing outside those pockets, the virus is unable to use us to replicate. The hope is that we can do this before the virus has mutated beyond the effectiveness of the current vaccines.

If we don’t, and we continue to allow the unchecked spread of the virus, we may come to a point where mutation happens fast enough that we need an annual vaccine.

No, I’m not a doctor. However, I have a military background specifically in NBC weapons and medical response, so I do have a functional understanding of the mechanism behind viral infection and replication.

We all miss our friends and families. We’ll all miss them even more if they’re dead.

So, please mask up, preferably with an N95 or N99 mask if they’re available to you. Maintain a physical distance from others of 2 meters or more. Reduce your movements to help reduce the number of “essential personnel” needed to support you. Finally, if you’re eligible to receive the vaccine, please get it. The sooner we stop the spread, the greater chance we can prevent this from continuing into 2022, or worse, becoming an annual disease.

This is the one and only time I will directly address the pandemic because it’s such a touchy subject in the US, even though it shouldn’t be.

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