Updated: Jan 28, 2022
By Geena Baide
Let’s face it, since the COVID-19 pandemic has become widespread across the globe, things have changed, not only in terms of health safety but in our day-to-day lives. With all that turmoil, it’s easy to become confused and uninformed, and more importantly, knowing the actions we should take to protect ourselves in the face of such an impacting health emergency. It’s led many to lend ears to alternative sources and become misinformed, in turn, leading to blatant nastiness, division, and panic. No one wants to be a wreck, so here’s some things you should know:
1. There are four main SARS-Cov-2 variants of concern.
They’re being tracked for cases with this variant across the globe, namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, with Delta accounting for over 99% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. It was first detected in December 2020 in India, gaining traction, spreading throughout the US and UK, and now poses more than 2x the deadly risk compared to all other variants. Medical experts continue to advise in favor of taking the COVID-19 vaccination, including increased protection against contacting SARS-CoV-2, preventing spreading the virus, reduced symptoms, and an overall strengthened immune system.
The Alpha variant (also recognized as Lineage #B.1.1.7 in variant proportion data charts) made up 38% of all cases in mid-June through mid-September, and Alpha along with other variants have laid low relative to Delta. First documented within the U.K. in September 2020, it had an impact when facing third wave Covid-19 in the U.S. and Canada, the latter reporting an exact 216,000 cases where the Alpha variant is responsible, and 50% more transmissible than Beta and Gamma strains.
2. How do the vaccines work?
There are three well-known vaccines administered in the U.S., known as the Pfizer-BioTech, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna vaccine. 55% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and other countries, such as Canada and Cuba, are outstanding in terms of vaccination rates, reporting on a basis of 148 and 168 per 100 people vaccinated, respectively. Two doses are required when taking them, with a set window of time lasting from about 4-6 weeks between each dose. Such as with other pharmaceutical products, there will be side effects. Your arm might be in pain or swelling, you may experience headaches and frequent pains, you might develop a fever, and these are all normal signs the vaccine is strengthening you with antibodies against contacting COVID.
There’s a relatively new concept of taking ‘booster shots’, suggested by CDC medical experts, for those of ages 18-64 who have existing underlying conditions, or who work in a high-risk environment. As for those under the age of 12, vaccines are readily being developed for those ages. The vaccine comes with full force, by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies, as if you were exposed to the disease.
I’m hoping this article helped you better understand the exact science behind COVID-19, and that (wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands), helps. It doesn’t always have to be scary or nerve-wracking, and there are always new discoveries to be made.
 “CDC COVID Data Tracker.” United States COVID-19 Cases, Deaths, and Laboratory Testing (NAATs) by State, Territory, and Jurisdiction, 25 September 2021. CDC Covid Data Tracker, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_casesper100klast7days. Accessed 25 September 2021.
 Centers for Disease Control. “Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines.” Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC, 7 September 2021, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. Accessed 25 September 2021.
 Centers for Disease Control. “What You Need to Know about Variants | CDC.” National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases, 20 September 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant.html. Accessed 25 September 2021.
 Katella, Kathy, and Yale Medicine. “5 Things To Know About the Delta Variant.” 5 Things To Know About the Delta Variant > News > Yale Medicine, 24 September 2021, https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/5-things-to-know-delta-variant-covid. Accessed 26 September 2021.
 The New York Times, and Josh Holder. “Tracking Coronavirus Vaccinations Around the World.” Covid World Vaccination Tracker, 24 September 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-vaccinations-tracker.html. Accessed 24 September 2021.
 World Health Organization. “Tracking SARS-CoV-2 Variants.” Tracking SARS-CoV-2 Variants, WHO, 22 September 2021, https://www.who.int/en/activities/tracking-SARS-CoV-2-variants/. Accessed 25 September 2021.