With the recent discussion around the B1617 coronavirus strain, you may have many questions about what this mutation is and what it means for the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore. We have put together the most important things to know about the strain and what you need to watch out for. This is what we know about the B1617 strain so far!
Your Questions about the B1617 Strain: Answered
Is the new B1617 strain more infectious?
The B1617 is a strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious than other strains. It was first detected in India in October 2020, although has spread to more countries since then.
Its contagiousness is due to two key mutations in the virus. The mutations helps the virus attach itself better to our cells while also increasing its resistance to antibodies.
Due to these mutations, the virus may spread more effectively across the population. As such, there may be some cause for concern around the strain.
Who is most at risk of contracting the B1617 strain?
The B1617 strain affects both adults and children, as it is more contagious as a virus overall. Previous conjecture had been that the B1617 strain seemed to be affecting children more, with the increase in positive cases amongst youths.
The Government shifted all schools to home-based learning from 19 May till the end of the term. Additionally, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has just been authorised by HSA for use on children aged between 12 – 15 years old.
All these measures will help to protect our youth and reduce the spread of the virus amongst younger children.
Are vaccines effective against the B1617 strain?
Yes, the two vaccines deployed in Singapore (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna) will still protect us against this strain. Recent research from BioNTech also supports this. Their findings demonstrate that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are effective against B1617.
However, it is worth remembering that vaccines are not 100% effective. As such, it is still possible that vaccinated persons contract COVID-19. Vaccines are up to 95% effective. Depending on your immunity system, even vaccinated, your body may still face difficulties in producing enough anti-bodies to fight the virus.
This doesn’t mean that we should put off vaccination though. Vaccination does help with alleviating the symptoms of COVID-19, so it’s still important that we get ourselves vaccinated the moment we can!
What should we do to protect ourselves from the B1617 strain?
The same principles apply: mask wearing, maintaining social distancing and personal hygiene practices. On the type of masks, the Government has strongly suggested using masks with ‘good filtration capability’. Examples of these are:
- Single-use surgical masks
- Reusable masks made of at least two layers of fabric, with at least 95% bacterial filtration capability
While we may feel overwhelmed by these new developments, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic has lasted for more than a year, know that you are not alone. Reach out to your family members or friends, if you need someone to talk to or share your worries.
If you are feeling unwell, instead of stepping out to a clinic, you can also opt for a video consultation and have medication delivered to you in 3 hours. Our doctors are available 24/7, whenever you need, via the Doctor Anywhere app.