A New Threat

What You Need to Know About the Covid-19 Variants

Gavin Covalle '24

As our nation approaches the two-year mark for Covid, hope for the pandemic to, at last, end its prevalence. A brief, yet monumental, relief came during the summer of 2021 when Covid-19 vaccines first were largely distributed. Concerts were rescheduled, families reunited, and the world was reintroduced to, really, the world. 

Now, the summer has passed, and with it, society has returned to a state when Covidseemed to control us. How did we get to this place again? Where,  despite our country’s vaccination status, Covid cases continue to rise. Simply put, variants of the original Covid-19 have begun to spread more widely and in a much faster manner. 

While “Delta” and “Omicron” are the most commonly known, there are three other variants that cause significant concern for the world: the “Alpha,” the “Beta,” and the “Gamma,” variants. The main issue with each variant is that they all spread faster than the original Covid-19 virus. Once one infection breaks out, a chain of others begin to spread rapidly and easier than normal. 

As a result, the recent spike of Covid cases has progressed  faster than the initial spikes. Following infection, treatments  that had proven to diminish Covid-19 symptoms, like antibiotics and antibodies from a previous infection, have proven unsuccessful against these variants. 

With this, the endurance of a variant becomes much stronger  and in many cases the variant becomes deadlier. Consequently, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, death rates are 64% higher than they once were. 

The announcement of these variants has resulted in an outbreak of fear, worry, and anger. Even though these unwelcome viruses pose a great risk, the recommended  actions to prevent infection and propel the world toward a Covid-free future, are quite simple. 

First, the CDC recommends that unvaccinated individuals wear masks when surrounded by people who do not live in their direct household. For the vaccinated, masks are suggested in indoor settings that contain many people but are not necessarily needed when outdoors. However, wearing a mask in both settings is extremely beneficial for all. 

As masks have demonstrated overall success in Covid-19 prevention, it is crucial that everyone wear one! This is why Saint Ignatius revoked an earlier decision not to require masks for the unvaccinated. Wearing masks helps the world rid itself of Covid. 

Second, getting a vaccination is critical in reversing the pandemic. It has been demonstrated that vaccines can prevent Covid-19 and all its variants. It is with vaccines that the world was able to return to regular activities this past summer, and it is with them that such freedom can be permanently reinstated. Vaccines are easy to get, with options at Walgreens, CVS, and more Check Chicagocovid.com to find available vaccination centers. 

As the Covid-19 variants have shown, the pandemic seems to be never-ending and ever-expanding. However, the future we all hope for is much more tangible than it may appear. Each component of the plan to return to normal is accessible, so take advantage of that! Get vaccinated, wear your mask, and act for the future. It is only when every  person participates in prevention tactics that we are able to stop Covid from having another birthday.