New COVID-19 Variants Make School Reopening A Challenge

New COVID-19 Variants Make School Reopening A Challenge
Small children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown, writing.

New studies and research found that the USA has its own new worrisome variants with the same concerning mutation. The new Coronavirus variant was first identified in Britain and South Africa. Now Americans are anxiously watching its spread. Scientists found 7 new variants that seem to have originated in the United States and many of them may pose the same kind of extra-contagious threat. On Sunday, a team of researchers found that seven growing lineages of the coronavirus, spotted in states across the country and they all have gained a mutation at the exact same spot in their genes. 

New COVID-19 Variants Make School Reopening A Challenge

Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and co-author of the new study says that “There is clearly something going on with this mutation. I think there is a clear signature of an evolutionary benefit”. Scientists are feeling difficult to find answers to even basic questions about how prevalent the new variants are in the United States because the country sequences genomes from less than 1 percent of coronavirus test samples. Researchers say that it is also hard to say whether the variants are spreading now because they are more contagious, or for some other reason, like holiday travel or superspreader events. 

New COVID-19 Variants Make School Reopening A Challenge

Studies found that the mutation could possibly affect how easily the virus gets into human cells. The structural biologist at the University of Texas at Austin, Jason McLellan says, “It is tough to know what these substitutions are doing. It really needs to be followed up with some additional experimental data.” 

Despite new CDC guidelines, the surge in COVID-19 cases make it difficult for schools

The surge in this new variant of coronavirus cases makes it difficult for schools to reopen despite the new guidelines released by the Biden administration last week. The head of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and a Biden transition adviser on COVID-19, Michael Osterholm says, “the spiking number of U.K. variant cases may mean that a lot of schools are going to be challenged to open at all”. 

On Friday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for school reopening that include a host of safety guidelines, including mask-wearing and maintaining 6 feet of physical distance between people when possible. The CDC points out “the next 14 weeks I think will be the worst of the pandemic”. 

The Cornell University public health professor and former deputy health commissioner in New York City, Dr. Isaac Weisfuse, told, “We are entering a difficult phase of the pandemic because of the spread of a mutated virus that is easier to transmit and perhaps deadlier than earlier versions. In the next few weeks, we may face a sharp increase in cases as occurred in the United Kingdom. The good news is that with increasing uptake of the vaccine, this phase may not be long lasting.”     


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