There are many variants of the coronavirus circulating around the world, but according to health experts they are primarily concerned with the emergence of three.
As a virus infects people, it can make copies of itself. Some mutations can be so harmful that it can cause it to die out. Others can offer an advantage and help it spread.
Mary Petrone, who studies infectious diseases at Yale University said, “Not every mutation is created equal.” “The virus is going to get lucky now and again.”
There is a possibility that they could make vaccines and treatments less effective, or change the way they infect people, so monitoring these variants is very important.
Until recently, Ohio State University biologist Daniel Jones said, a mutation early in the pandemic led the spread of the virus around the world, but there had been no notable changes since then.
One of the three main variants experts are watching was discovered in the United Kingdom late last year and has been detected in dozens of countries since.
Initially, the Health officials said it didn’t seem to cause worse disease, but some recent information suggests it might – that remains unknown at the moment.
However, it does appear to spread more easily, which could lead to more hospitalizations and deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the variant might become dominant in the U.S. by March.
However, the experts say, other variants first detected in South Africa and in Brazil also appear more contagious.
Current vaccines should still protect against these variants, though there’s some concern their effectiveness may be slightly diminished. there is some evidence that some antibody treatments may be less effective against certain variants.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert said, there are ways to adjust vaccines and treatments to maintain their effectiveness.
The appearance of new variants is linked to ongoing surges since infections give viruses the chance to mutate and spread, and this is another reason why experts stress the importance of mask wearing and social distancing.
“The fewer humans carrying the virus, the fewer opportunities it has to mutate,” Jones said.