Researchers at UCLA, international team, say variants may change coronavirus treatment, vaccines

An international team of researchers, including participants from UCLA, have detailed how an increasing number of variants could cut down on the ability of vaccines and treatments to manage the coronavirus.

The team published an article in the peer-reviewed journal “EMBO Molecular Medicine.”

Dr. Christina Ramirez, a professor in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and co-author of the study, noted that the number of variants has skyrocketed since last April, jumping from 10 to 100.

“The speed by which the virus travelled, even during lockdowns, emphasizes the difficulty in suppressing transmission of highly contagious respiratory viruses,” Dr. Ramirez said.

The published article uses the B.1.1.7., also known as the U.K. variant, as an example of how quickly the respiratory illness can travel. The country decided to lock down on Dec. 23, 2020 when the variant could be found in just three countries – Australia, Denmark and Italy. By the beginning of April, the variant could be found in more than 100 countries and there was at least one case of reinfection documented.

Health officials across the country are continuing with the reopening process. There is no longer a capacity limit on the number of people allowed in a business and vaccinated individuals are not required to wear masks except in some specific locations like in hospitals or on public transit.

This isn’t to say local officials are throwing caution to the wind. In a video posted to Twitter, Mayor Eric Garcetti warned that the pandemic still isn’t over.

“These new rules around masking are a sign that we’re recovering, that your has work mattered, but let’s still be careful,” Garcetti said. “COVID-19 is still a ver real threat, not only across the world, but it’s a danger here in LA to those who remain unvaccinated.”

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