July 26, 2021
Editor’s Note: TVA strongly encourages COVID vaccination, while also recognizing it is a personal choice. Below is information from TVA’s Sr. Physician, Dr. Brenda Sowter, on COVID vaccinations and COVID variants.
The COVID pandemic has been one for the record books, coming in second only to the 1918 Influenza epidemic. Unfortunately, COVID has currently caused 691,000 deaths in the United States with 33.9 million recorded cases to date. Worldwide it has claimed 4.1 million deaths with 188 million recorded cases.
This article has been designed to help dispel myths, educate ourselves about COVID variants, and understand how a vaccine can help control the virus.
Did you know that a vaccine is used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against disease? It is important to note that viruses are constantly changing through mutation, and new variants (mutations) of a virus are expected to occur. These variants are classified into three groups:
- Variants of Interest
- Variants of Concern
- Variants of Consequence
Currently, the COVID variant of concern is the Delta variant, which is causing the most interest in the news due to an increased threat to individuals — non-vaccinated individuals. Early data suggests the Delta variant now makes up greater than 50 percent of COVID cases in the U.S. and will be the most prevalent variant by fall. However, the Lambda variant, now sweeping through South America, will merit watching.
How can we stop the progression of variants? By getting ahead of the mutations through vaccination. If a virus does not have a host, it cannot survive and mutate. A non-vaccinated person is a host for mutation.
To date, 48.5 percent of the U.S. population are fully vaccinated, but vaccine hesitancy remains. While no vaccine is 100 percent without side effects, vaccine data is showing effective immunity against COVID, immunity against the known variants, and is also showing a boost of our T-cell immunity, which are cells that directly fight the virus through a different pathway. These vaccine actions are the key to ending this pandemic.
TVA Senior Physician