More COVID-19 variants could be on the way

Posted at 11:46 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-02 23:46:09-04

"We should try to reach a stage called 'herd immunity,'" said Dr. Jay Gupta.

Alright, we know what you're thinking. We're a year and a half into this pandemic and you've heard this before.

"At that stage, we should be able to effectively reduce or block the chain of transmission," he said.

But doctors, like Dr. Gupta of Florida Gulf Coast University, say herd immunity is the only way to break the current cycle we're in.

And unless we do, the virus will only keep spreading to people and evolving, which could make it even stronger or easier to catch.

"It needs a living cell to replicate and only then can it mutate," said Dr. Gupta.

Right now, we've seen alpha, beta, gamma, and delta variations of the virus in the U.S. But heading into flu season, Dr. Gupta says we could see more.

"This season with the restrictions being eased and the new delta variant in circulation and given the recent change in how quickly the rate of infection is rising, it's possible that we could see a spike in the COVID-19 cases," he said.

And he says the easiest way to get us to the herd immunity needed to break this cycle is through vaccination.

According to the CDC, right now only about 50 percent of the U.S. population is currently fully vaccinated.

But locally, it looks like those numbers are rising.

Lee Health is reporting a spike in the number of vaccinations for the month of July. Last month, the health system gave out an average of 77 shots a day. It ended the month by giving out almost 300 vaccines in one day, on July 30.

Dr. Gupta says current doses of the vaccine are strong enough to help you fight any of the current variants, but he adds that manufacturers will also be tweaking the formula to make it even more effective.

"They're going to take into account the new variants," he said.