To the Editor:
I am Holden, a biology student at Cal State University, Monterey Bay. I am writing on behalf of residents in Monterey County to raise awareness of the current ongoing threat posed to public health by evolving SARS-CoV-2 variants.
In my community, I believe the majority of individuals are vaccinated. I am still afraid that we are at risk of potential SARS-CoV-2 viral evolution. Our county excels in tourism, and I think it is extremely important for the general public of Monterey County to understand ways of reducing transmissibility to keep case counts as low as possible.
Local officials need to encourage vaccinated individuals to continue mitigation measures, required genomic sequencing of case individuals, and international coordination for this global tragedy. If policy makers could urge vaccinated people to continue to adhere to mitigation processes like face masks, social distancing, proper ventilation, then the emergence and/or spread of escape variants or any variant capable of slipping through our immune response would be drastically limited.
Regular surveillance genotyping of infected (sample) case genomes is essential for the identification of new variants and sharing these gene sequences publicly would allow people all over the world, suffering from the same problem, to be better informed and prepared when new variants of concern are detected.
Leaving SARS-CoV-2 uncontrolled/unknown anywhere on the planet leaves the entire human race, along with other organisms, vulnerable to the emergence of variants that can escape immunity. Which is why going forward international coordination should be viewed as a necessity for the prosperity of mankind.
We need leaders in our community to take action so that policies are implemented to guard our citizens from the ongoing threat of viral evolution and provide protection along with a healthier quality of life for all.
William Holden Wood
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