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What We Know About The Covid-19 Variants

Recently, the public has once again begun to slightly panic due to new variants of the Covid-19 virus. Viruses constantly change by going through mutations and when this happens, new variants of a virus are expected to occur. However, while there may be various variants, only some persist and others may disappear. During the pandemic, multiple variants of Covid-19 have been documented in the United States. Variants also mutate constantly and by studying them, scientists can learn how these changes may impact how it is transmitted and how sick people get from it. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are four notable variants in the United States. The first is Alpha which was first detected in December 2020 and originally was discovered in the United Kingdom. The second is Beta. Detected in January 2021, this variant was first identified in South Africa in December 2020. The next variant is known as Gamma — originally detected in travelers from Brazil in early January 2021— this variant was found in the United States by the end of January 2021. Finally, the most recent, and currently the most widely discussed, variant is Delta. 


The Delta variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021 after being initially identified in India in December 2020. Since the variant has recently been detected more and seems to spread more easily and quickly than some other variants, it is likely to lead to even more cases. According to The New York Times, this has caused an increase in the number of people getting vaccinated. As of August 2nd, 2021 the United States has successfully reached its goal of having 70% of eligible adults vaccinated, a month later than intended. This variation has also caused a new wave of social awareness and has many people encouraging others to get vaccinated. 


So, what is being done to learn more about these variants? The CDC reports: “Scientists are studying these variants to learn more about them and to quickly detect new variants. They want to understand whether the current and new variants


  • Spread more easily from person-to-person
  • Cause milder or more severe disease in people
  • Are detected by currently available viral tests
  • Respond to medicines currently being used to treat COVID-19
  • Change the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines”

The CDC continues to encourage everyone who can get the vaccine to do so and now also encourages people in high-risk areas to wear masks inside again. The original methods of slowing the spread of Covid-19 are still being encouraged including wearing a mask covering your nose and mouth, social distancing and staying six feet from others if possible in public spaces, and washing your hands often. For more information check out https://www.cdc.gov/

Featured image via Fusion Medical Animation

Sources: 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/variants/variant.html

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/08/02/world/covid-delta-variant-vaccine

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