Are there any additional ways to reduce my risk?
The vaccine is the ultimate way to reduce the risk. But until then, take a look at your activities and try to reduce the time and number of exposures to other people.
For example, if you go to the store two or three times a week now, reduce the number to once a week. When you’ve spent 30 to 45 minutes at the grocery store, cut your time down to 15 or 20 minutes. If the shop is crowded, come back later. When standing in line, make sure you are at least three feet away from the people in front and behind you. Try roadside delivery or pickup if that’s an option for you.
If you’ve spent time indoors with someone outside your household, these events should be skipped until you and your friends are vaccinated. If you need to spend time with others, wear your best mask, make sure the room is well ventilated (windows and doors open), and keep the visit as short as possible. It’s still safest to put your social plans outdoors. And if you are thinking about air travel, given the high number of cases across the country and the emergence of the contagious variant, making a new appointment is a good idea.
“The new variations make me think twice about my plan to teach in person what would have happened with masks and good ventilation anyway,” said Dr. Marr. “You make me think twice about getting on a plane.”
Will the current Covid vaccines work against the new variants?
Experts are cautiously optimistic that the current generation of vaccines will mainly be effective against the emerging coronavirus variants. Earlier this month Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their Covid vaccine was effective against one of the key mutations that are present in some variants. This is good news, but the variants have other potentially risky mutations that have not yet been studied.
Some data also suggest that variants with certain mutations may be more resistant to the vaccines. Far more studies are needed, however, and these variants have not yet been demonstrated in the United States. While the data is concerned, experts say the current vaccines produce extremely high levels of antibodies and are likely to at least prevent serious illness in people who are immunized and infected.
“The reason I’m cautiously optimistic is that, from what we know about how vaccines work, it’s not just one antibody that provides all of the protection,” said Dr. Adam Lauring, Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan. “When you get vaccinated, you make antibodies all over the spike protein. This makes it less likely that a mutation here or there will leave you completely unprotected. That gives me reason to be optimistic that this will be okay with the vaccine, but there is still a lot to be done. “