Many people are hopeful that the COVID vaccine is a light at the end of a nearly year-long tunnel that has taken Americans very far away from what life was like pre-pandemic. But now, as Michigan and other states are struggling to get the vaccine distributed, there’s an even bigger obstacle: The emergence of several new variants of the coronavirus.
“The virus is actually changing its genetic code. It’s changing over time. All viruses do that, and we expected it from the beginning.” — Dr. Paul Kilgore, Associate Professor and Director of Research at Wayne State University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Listen: Several new variants of COVID-19 are causing concerns within the medical community around vaccine efficacy and general safety
Dr. Paul Kilgore is Associate Professor and Director of Research at Wayne State University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. He’s also the principal investigator at Henry Ford Health System’s testing of Moderna’s vaccine trial. As far as the severity of COVID-19 symptoms in the new variants, Kilgore says there is some research indicating that these mutations could create more complicated cases of the virus. “The virus is actually changing its genetic code. It’s changing over time. All viruses do that, and we expected it from the beginning,” says Kilgore of the new strains, one of which is now in Michigan.
In looking ahead to how these new variants could impact the future of life in Michigan and throughout the country, Kilgore says, “I think there’s a chance this gets worse before it gets better in the next several weeks.” He provides some suggestions as to how people can continue to protect themselves from COVID-19 and its variants:
- Mask Up: Continue to wear your mask and, if you’re wearing a cloth mask, consider doubling up
- Hand Hygiene: Keep washing your hands, using hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face
- Keep Your Distance: Practice proper social distancing of 6 feet or more and avoid large crowds and social gatherings
- Indoor Safety: If you’re spending time with people indoors, make sure the area is well ventilated and there’s air moving throughout the space
- Get Vaccinated: If you have the opportunity to get the vaccine, get it.