This year started off a bit rocky as we were still dealing with the pandemic and coming to terms with our new normal. Then, thanks to the hard work and dedication from the finest medical scientists our species has to offer, a vaccine was made that gave us a light at the end of this dark tunnel.
Slowly but surely the vaccine was given out, first to the individuals most at risk, and then to the rest of us. Cases were dropping dramatically, less deaths were occurring, and hospitals finally had a chance to breathe.
Then came the Delta variant, swooping in unannounced like the Headless Horseman to shake up our plans for the rest of the year. Hospitalizations and deaths are once again on the rise.
It has also caused some confusion and misinformation to be spread. It can be stressful to know what is true and what is false or exaggerated. Here I will answer a few common questions so that we can spread factual information and keep the public well informed.
What is the Delta variant?
The Delta variant is a mutation of the coronavirus SARS-Cov-2, commonly known as Covid-19. As a virus, Covid-19 only has one real purpose: to inhabit hosts, replicate, and mutate. Since the beginning, every time Covid has infected a person in the world, it replicated in their system. As each person passed the virus on to the next person, Covid repeated this process until eventually, it mutated.
Every new host is essentially a learning experience of how to be a more effective virus. Once it learns something new, it mutates, and will continue to do so. The Delta variant is proving to be more easily transmissible and also is more prevalent in young people than before.
We call it the Delta variant as a means of keeping track of each variant. Seeing as Delta is the fourth letter in the Greek alphabet, it makes sense to assume the Delta variant is the fourth variant to be found.
There are also talks of a Lambda variant, but so far, Delta is the mutation that has caused the most problems for humans.
How does the vaccine help?
Imagine this: there are ten people in a room together. They are all vaccinated. Yes, they can pass Covid to each other. However, because they are vaccinated, the likelihood that they get so sick they need hospitalization or die is extremely low. Also, because they have the vaccine, their bodies know what to do when it encounters this virus, so not only can they fight it off on their own before it replicates, their bodies do not give the virus a chance to mutate.
Now imagine this: there are ten people in a room together. None of them are vaccinated. They pass Covid to each other and every time they do, the virus replicates in their system, giving it a chance to mutate and become more deadly. Their bodies have encountered the virus before, but every time they get it, the virus is different, causing more chaos in their body. Many will become sick, need hospitalization, and die.
But if you have the vaccine, why do I need it?
Imagine again: there are twenty people in a room. Ten are vaccinated and ten are not. Everyone is passing around the same virus. The vaccinated individuals may get sick, but they will likely not die. Then the virus mutates. The vaccine the ten individuals received was not made based on this mutation. Suddenly, their bodies are trying to do a job they were never trained how to do. The vaccinated individuals, along with the unvaccinated ones will all get sick. The vaccinated ones have a chance of dying, but it is still extremely low.
However, because the virus is successfully fighting against the vaccinated individual, it is given the chance to mutate. Every time a vaccinated and unvaccinated person gets sick from Covid is another chance the virus will mutate past the protection the vaccine gives.
I heard a lot of people who got the vaccine had severe reactions or died.
As with any vaccine we have taken, there is a possibility of having a reaction to the Covid vaccine, but it is very rare. The odds of getting a reaction to the polio or chickenpox vaccine does not stop most people. The same should apply with the Covid vaccine.
While I encourage you to get the vaccine, make your own, educated choice on whether or not to get it, but do not let fear mongering or social media impact your decision.
By: Better Me by Dr. B
Editor: Ariel Thompson
Medical Reviewer: Dr. Tiffany Bell D.O.