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>The statistics suggesting that patients carrying B.1.427/B.1.429 variants were more likely to die was based on the charts of 69 patients who were admitted to the hospital in the first place because they had very severe Covid-19.
>“If you only look at the sickest people you’re gonna see something different than if you look at the population as a whole,” said DeRisi, who was not involved in his colleagues’ study. Neither study tells us exactly why transmission rates are higher. The virus could be becoming more common by some fluke, or because it is slightly more transmissible.
>“I don’t think there’s any question that this lineage is becoming more common in California,” said William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “But I think the amount of sampling in California is not sufficient to fully define why. And I think that we should be wary, before we categorize every locally emerging hopeful monster as a ‘variant of concern’.” He noted that although the California variant has now become more common in the state, researchers think it has most likely been around since at least May. “You’ve got to ask yourself why it’s been around for so long and hasn’t taken the world by storm,” he said.
>“I am not panicked, and you shouldn’t be either,” said Monica Gandhi, an infectious disease expert at UCSF. “It’s not unexpected that we’re seeing more variants,” she continued. “Viruses mutate, and often, these mutations will allow them to become more transmissible.” That’s the modus operandi of a pandemic-causing virus. And it’s scientists’ job to keep track of them, and test whether new variants can better evade our immune systems and vaccines.
>But for now, Gandhi said she was not particularly worried about B.1.427/B.1.429, or the variant that researchers this week flagged in New York. In both states daily deaths and hospitalizations are going down despite these new variants being in circulation, she noted. “So far, none of these variants have evolved to the point where they can completely get through masks, or they can overcome social distancing, or any of the other public health measures we’ve implemented.”
>“These emerging variants tell us we need to be vigilant, that maybe we shouldn’t be making summer vacation plans today,” said Waleed Javaid, an epidemiologist and the director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai hospital in New York. “But let’s wait and see before we worry too much.”
We'll be able to get our haircut soon, lad.