COVID-19 variants: Explained

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What does it mean that multiple coronavirus variants have been discovered.

Mutation is a natural process for all viruses.

The resulting virus from these mutations are called variants.

In terms of the pandemic and the coronavirus, doctors, researchers and public health experts credit the sharp spike in COVID-19 cases over the winter months to these variants.

How do these variants factor into the ongoing pandemic?

Viral spread

Variants of the coronavirus were discovered early in the pandemic.

In the natural progression of viruses spreading throughout a population, they mutate in order to become more contagious to its host, increasing that spread from one person to another and another.

However, a mutation of a virus does not mean that it is still holds the same level of severity.

Mortality rate

As viruses mutate and become more contagious, they can often naturally attenuate.

An attenuated virus is one that’s in a more weakened state — a virus that is less vigorous.

In terms of COVID-19, this means that while variants are more contagious, it’s undetermined on how it has affected the virus’s overall severity, however there is evidence that the variants are not more deadly.


With the emergency use approval granted to multiple COVID-19 vaccines, the world rejoiced as the plan to fight back against the coronavirus became a reality.

But the variants quickly presented a possible wrinkle to that plan as questions were raised about the vaccines’ effectiveness against the multiple variant strains.

Thankfully, to date, researchers have concluded the vaccines’ effectiveness was unaffected by the variants — in that the vaccines are still effective in protecting against coronavirus variants, as effective as the vaccine developers’ clinical trials originally determined.

Remain vigilant

The presence of the COVID-19 variants and their design to be more contagious has experts and public health professionals strongly urging people to continue remaining vigilant and protecting against the spread.

National COVID-19 cases and vaccinations are both trending in favorable directions, but risks around the virus still exist, making it crucial to continue mitigation strategies.

Continue to wear masks, socially distance and avoid large crowds


Benefits of COVID-19 vaccine

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COVID-19 vaccine safety

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