Here’s What You Can Do To Protect Yourself Against the More Contagious COVID-19 Variant

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It has been about a year since COVID-19 entered the United States. We had hoped that the pandemic would be behind us by now, but instead, scientists keep discovering new variants, and there’s one in particular that is even more contagious than what we were fighting throughout 2020.

The New York Times reports that a particular variant of COVID-19 known as B.1.1.7. is not more dangerous than the original variant, but it spreads more easily. That means, until you are able to get vaccinated, it’s important to be extra cautious.

Remember at the beginning of the pandemic when we were all extra careful about COVID safety? We didn’t know as much about the virus then, so we wiped down our groceries, had everything delivered and pretty much didn’t leave our homes at all.

Since March, we have learned that COVID-19 is the easiest to catch when we’re indoors and in close proximity with someone who has the virus. That is true with the new variant too, but it seems that it might require less contact with the contagious person in order to get sick.

After interviewing several experts, the New York Times was able to provide several suggestions about how to protect ourselves from this new variant, and it all comes back to what we were doing during lockdown. For starters, avoid being inside with people who do not live in your household. That means cutting back on trips to the grocery store or stores in general. That also means refraining from socializing with people outside your household.

Another tip is to make sure you wear the highest quality mask you have when you do go inside a store or building where there are people outside your household. That doesn’t mean you need to buy an N-95 mask, but you should make sure your mask has 2 or 3 layers (like 2 layers with a filter in the middle). To be extra safe, you might want to consider wearing two masks, like a disposable mask with a reusable mask over it.

Experts are optimistic that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine will protect us from the new variants of COVID-19 as well as the original strain. Dr. Adam Lauring is an associate professor of infectious disease at the University of Michigan. He told The New York Times, “When you get vaccinated you generate antibodies all over the spike protein. That makes it less likely that one mutation here or there is going to leave you completely unprotected. That’s what gives me reason for optimism that this is going to be OK in terms of the vaccine, but there’s more work to be done.”

Are you going to start wearing two masks when you go to stores? Are you going to be vaccinated when the COVID-19 vaccine is available for you?