TULSA, Okla. — A drop in COVID-19 cases is encouraging news for health officials but new emerging variants are still a major concern. As vaccines become more abundant, health experts are now stressing the importance of getting immunized.
Experts at OU Health and the Oklahoma Medical Association believe one of those consequences is that COVID-19 may become a seasonal virus, similar to influenza. COVID-19 cases may diminish in the spring and summer with a resurgence in the fall and winter.
Some even argue that is the reason why northern states are continuing to see substantial outbreaks while southern states are seeing a decline. However, emerging variants could change that.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are currently researching a new and potentially more dangerous variant detected at a lab at Texas A&M last week. So far, the variant is showing signs of being resistant to antibodies and causing a more severe illness in younger people.
The more the virus is allowed to spread, the greater the chance it has to mutate. That’s health experts are urging everyone to get vaccinated to prevent further variants from arising.
“As long as the virus is being transmitted the mutations will continue to occur,” Chief Medical Officer for OU Health Dr. Dale Bratzler said.
“If we get ahead of it, it may not be enough transmission and multiplication to really have huge numbers of mutation,” President of the Oklahoma Medical Association, Dr. Mary Clarke said.
Health experts are also urging people who have already contracted COVID-19 to also get the vaccine. Studies from the CDC show that natural immunity does not provide lasting protection. In most cases, protection will only last for about 90 days from natural immunity.
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