Fifth Ward Church of Christ Resource Center
The FWCOC Resource Center is a way for members to use their gifts and talents to serve God and mankind. All resources and activities listed on the site are provided FREE of charge to residents of the greater Houston area. If you are wondering how we can offer these services free, the answer lies at the heart of what we understand as God’s directive for our lives. "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Peter 4:10). The FWCOC Ministry In-Brief is our way of providing a profile of Ministries at Work.
The FWCOC Ministry In-Brief - Health and Wellness Ministry
COVID-19 Research-Based Awareness, Part III - Variants, Now What?
Is church a static or dynamic way of thinking? It seems like a simple question, but it is based on your understanding of what church is. Let’s use the same question and apply it to science. Is science a static or dynamic way of thinking? Ponder your thoughts.
Some say that biological and chemical processes have not changed since creation, and this is true for our basic understanding of how biotic and abiotic factors interact across the world. However, as people reject, misunderstand, misuse, and ignore scientific concepts, you cannot stick with a static way of thinking about science: you need to keep an open mind and accept the dynamic impact of outside elements that can, in some cases, overwhelm the people who are trying to abide by the key concepts and processes of science. This is a good way to approach and understand the variants associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, more commonly known by the disease it causes, COVID-19.
What is a COVID-19 Variant?
Variants are common among viruses, and it is not surprising that various strains of the COVID-19 virus are appearing across the world. But what, exactly, is a variant? According to researchers at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a variant can be described thus:
When a virus replicates or makes copies of itself, it sometimes changes a little bit. These changes are called “mutations.” A virus with one or more new mutations is referred to as a “variant” of the original virus. The more viruses circulate and spread—the more times they make copies of themselves—the more opportunities there are for change. These changes can occasionally result in a virus variant that is better adapted to its environment than the original virus, and some mutations can lead to changes in a virus’s characteristics, such as altered transmission (for example, it may spread more easily) or severity (for example, it may cause more severe disease) (Sources: CDC.gov; WHO.int). This is a general definition to help demystify the term “variant” as it pertains to the discussions and news about COVID-19.
Researchers are not surprised by these variants, considering how many infections there have been, but they are on high alert to track them. Viruses, such as COVID-19, constantly change through mutation, and new variants of any virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes, new variants emerge and just disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and start infecting people. Basically, viruses mutate as they infect hosts, and infecting hosts is what viruses do.
What is the impact on us being able to get back to normal?
Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented during this pandemic, and they are key factors in the path to getting back to some form of normality. As of January 31, 2021, researchers at the CDC are tracking at least three COVID-19 variants that are circulating globally:
- B.1.1.7 – United Kingdom (and more than 46 other countries)
- B.1.1.351 – South Africa (and more than 19 other countries)
- P.1 – Brazil (and more than four other countries)
Key things to consider about these COVID-19 variants include the following:
- Increased transmissibility (before or after vaccination) – the variant may be more contagious, spread further, and more dominate. Just by it being more transmissible, it may turn out to be more lethal.
- Increased disease burden (more difficult during the point of serious disease) and more severe symptoms.
- Continued testing and studies to determine the impact on vaccines and therapeutics.
- Increased stress on healthcare systems.
- Continued review and emphasis on the importance of wearing masks (layered, medical grade, etc.), washing hands, and social distancing.
- Genomic surveillance (genetic sequencing to find variants early.)
These are the key factors that health officials need to understand and address in order to mitigate the spread of the variants associated with COVID-19 as the infections "run wild." Nevertheless, the basics still apply, and the focus remains on trying to stop the spread. Individuals need to re-dedicate and double their efforts to help stop the variants as they emerge. From reducing the time spent in areas where one can be exposed to wearing a face covering (including proper fit, type, etc..), we must continue with the same precautions and become more aware.
Travel across continents also increases the probability of the virus (and variants) infecting more people, which may lead to new variants. This is why we see lockdowns, vaccine priorities and travel restrictions occurring: to lower the rates of infection and the likelihood of new variants.
Will the vaccines work on new variants?
What if the vaccines do not work against the virus variants? Studies are being conducted to determine whether the antibodies produced by taking the currently approved mRNA platform vaccines remain effective against new variants. Science once again leads the way and the approved vaccines can also be enhanced (modified/re-tooled, booster shot options, etc...) to deal with the new variants if necessary.
Research and data collection are key to tracking these new variants, so the key thing to watch, as we continue this real world science experiment, is the spread of the infection and the data produced by truthful "full disclosure" research studies. These will help determine next steps and associated decisions during this pandemic. (Source: CDC.gov).
As of January 31, 2021, public health officials continue to track COVID-19 and study the new variants and their associated impacts. So we need to continue to trust God, understand (and follow) science and be on high alert for additional practices to help control the spread of COVID-19 and new variants.
Ecclesiastes 12:11-12 11"The words of the wise are like goads, and masters of these collections are like driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd. 12 But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive study is wearying to the body." (Source: Bible – New American Standard (NASB))
Ministry: Health and Wellness.
Coordinator(s) and/or Volunteer(s): Leroy Mobley, Karl Spencer.
Ministry In-Brief Administrator and Volunteer(s): Karl Spencer, Yolonda Gaines.
Location: Fifth Ward Church of Christ Resource Center.
Ministry In-Brief Archive:
Resource Center Highlights
The Goals and Vision of the center are to:
(1) Offer quality resources that contribute to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of local community residents and the Greater Houston Area;
(2) Provide an opportunity for every desiring member to use their particular gifts in service to God and mankind;
(3) Cultivate a community of believers who support and encourage one another, and who ultimately bring glory to God; and
(4) Create opportunities to share the goods news of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom.
Some services require pre-registration or accompaniment by a member. Space is limited. Call or email us for additional information. Tel: 713-672-2654, Email: [email protected]