In a Race Against an Ever-Changing Virus, Humans Losing Ground
July 22, 2021 -- A year ago, scientists looking at the future of the COVID-19 pandemic felt optimistic. Vaccine development was zooming toward unprecedented achievement. And unlike the viruses that cause the flu or AIDS, they thought, this virus couldn't mutate to evade the fully primed human immune system.
"Thankfully, SARS-CoV-2 does not seem to have evolved any such tricks yet — suggesting that we still have an opportunity to stem its spread and the pandemic by pursuing a relatively straightforward vaccine approach," wrote two Yale University immunologists in a July 31, 2020, essay for The New York Times.
Those were the days.
Since then, the United Kingdom, South Africa, India, and Brazil have all discovered "variants of concern" — mutant strains that spread more easily and may cause more severe illness.
The new kid on the block, the Delta variant first detected in India, appears to be far more contagious than its original cousin. It is quickly becoming the dominant source of new COVID-19 cases everywhere, causing an uptick in new cases even where large percentages of the population …
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