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We’re at risk for developing dangerous COVID-19 variants, Utah expert says

A Utah doctor recently explained why there’s a risk for developing COVID-19 variants, which would be worse than the delta or lambda COVID variants.

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The virus that causes COVID-19.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19.

NIAID-RML via Associated Press

The delta variant of the coronavirus may only be the beginning of highly transmissible COVID-19 variants. And now, experts are speaking out about the potential for dangerous variants.

Do you need to worry about variants?

Dr. Robert Paine III, a University of Utah pulmonologist, told the Deseret News in an email that there isn’t much to say right now about the lambda variant since there’s not enough information. Still, he said it’s a good thing the vaccines have worked well against the variants.

  • “We are incredibly fortunate that the vaccines are still very effective against the variants. Even if they are a bit less effective against becoming infected, they have been extremely successful in presenting severe illness or death from any of the coronaviruses,” he told me.

Paine said we’re heading down a slippery slope. More transmission could lead to more mutations and, sadly, new variants.

  • “Increased ease of transmission means we need to be even more careful in protecting ourselves and our loved ones,” he said. “And the longer the virus is actively circulating in large numbers of patients, the greater the risk there will develop mutants that will evade the immune defenses from vaccines or prior infections.”

Experts warn of future variants

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House medical adviser for the novel coronavirus, told news site McClatchy that there could be a worse COVID-19 variant lingering around. And that worse variant becomes a bigger possibility if we let the delta variant spread.

  • “If another one comes along that has an equally high capability of transmitting but also is much more severe, then we could really be in trouble,” he said, according to The Sacramento Bee. “People who are not getting vaccinated mistakenly think it’s only about them. But it isn’t. It’s about everybody else, also.”

How to stop COVID-19 variants

Paine — who has been leading out on treatment methods for COVID-19, according to WBUR — actually has been focused on a new treatment method that could help us defeat variants.

That treatment calls on people to inhale leukine, which is a naturally occurring molecule that can defend the lungs.

  • “Because it is given as an inhaled mist, it targets the lung to alleviate respiratory failure and reduce the need for oxygen therapy. This is a key step in preventing the need for ICU care and support on a mechanical ventilator. Finally, because Leukine works through the body’s natural defense mechanisms it will be beneficial even if variants of the virus arise for which vaccines are less effective,” Paine said.