The New COVID-19 Variant: What to Know Before Travelling

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In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many changes to the world. Not only has this affected how people socialize and interact with each other, but this has also raised concerns regarding safety measures and public health policies. Some many medical organizations and institutes have been producing vaccines that can help stem infection rates.

Fortunately, many vaccines developed in the past year counteract the effects of SARS-CoV-2. But right before 2020 ended, there have been reports by media outlets of new outbreaks of COVID-19 variants. What’s even more alarming is these new strains are more infectious and can be even more deadly. Recent studies have suggested that the UK variant has a higher mortality rate than previous diseases.

There have been many speculations on whether the vaccine works against it for the rest of the year. How can this affect the preventive measures that are set in place?

Is it safe to be travelling during this time? Here are some critical facts that you need to know.

Should You Travel During These Times?

Since the beginning of the year, many countries have been doing vaccination drives to ensure that a good percentage of the population is now vaccinated. The original premise, in this case, is that if the majority of the population are now vaccinated, this can form herd immunity, which can help protect those that are not vaccinated.

However, recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude that fully vaccinated individuals can spread the virus to others. However, symptoms are shorter compared to previous variants.

So is it now safe to go out? It’s still risky to be going out at these tumultuous times. Not only can this increase the risk of getting infected, but this can also put people in harm’s way. If you’re already travelling, finding a safe and stable location should be your top priority.

Not quite sure where you should be staying? Fortunately, you won’t have to look far since an app can help young individuals find an affordable hostel to stay in. Not only can this help cut down on your expenses, but this can also keep you safe should there be a rise of infections in the area that you’re travelling to.

doctor with a patient

Strain vs. Variant: What Is It?

However, there’s still one crucial question regarding the new variant: is it a variant or a strain? Fortunately, what we have is not a new strain; what we have is a new variant.

You often see news outlets use both these terms as if they were synonymous. In reality, both have different meanings and connotations. When experts are talking about strains, this means that it’s not related to the SARS-CoV-2 disease since a new strain entails that it is a different virus.

However, some strains are often associated with other strains, such as the SARS virus from the past decade. Recent research has shown similarities between the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) with COVID-19.

But when experts refer to variants, that means that this has the same genetic makeup as SARS-CoV-2, which underwent a variety of mutations that altered some parts of its genetic code.

Vaccines and the New Variant

How is this relevant to us right now? This means vaccines are still relevant and practical to newer variants since most can have almost the same genetic makeup. One of the most pressing concerns that have made headlines in the past few months is if these vaccines can still offer protection. Many researchers would agree that vaccines are still effective. If vaccines might not be so effective, many researchers and scientists are currently developing more medications to combat this virus.

As you can see, the new COVID-19 variant is quite different from the “original” strain that much of the population is warned about. Not only is it more infectious, but it exhibits other means of transmission that weren’t in the previous variant. So should you start travelling during these times? It’s recommended that you stay at home. If you are travelling, you need to be aware of affordable and safe living areas where you can stay.

Still, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s new information about the pandemic every day. There’s bound to be further studies and new information about COVID-19. That said, we should remain vigilant and open-minded to new information. One can’t be too careful and alert during these trying times. Washing our hands and wearing masks are important ways of keeping our bodies healthy and safe.

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