How to crush the variants that have kept the pandemic going


It seems a day doesn’t pass without another alarming headline about COVID-19 vaccine efficacy or coronavirus variant-driven case surges. Those plans many people made earlier in the summer for post-vaccine reunions, playdates, or visits to grandma’s? They’re on hold or going forward only after infection-prevention protocols that might make an open-heart surgery team blush. While the current COVID wave might be cresting in some places, the fact that the delta variant wrought such disruption after vaccines became widely available in the United States raises a troubling question: Will the future look more like life under delta, or more like life during those few weeks or months of early summer when it seemed like the pandemic might be tamed?

It’s easy to have a sense of impending doom, to think that some mutant variant somewhere is lurking in the wings, ready to take the world back to immunological square one; given how quickly delta seemed to set back pandemic progress, the possibility might seem likely. Virus experts, however, say it’s not that simple. “If you talk to a lot of virologists, they’re probably less scared of that happening in the immediate future than the average person,” Bowie State University virologist Kari Debbink says.



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