There has been a lot of news coverage and discussion about how COVID-19 has changed and mutated. It’s a scary thought that after a year of fighting this disease it will change and we will need to start over.
At the Centers for Disease Control and other official scientific agencies, variants are a major concern. They warn variants can have:
Currently, the variants most commonly discussed do not have a lot of these traits, although many are showing the ability to spread more quickly.
Here’s a look at each of the three most well-known variants of COVID-19.
United Kingdom Variant (8,337 cases in the United States as of March 25)
This variant was first discovered in England in September 2020 and has spread throughout the world, reaching the United States in December. Currently, only one state, Oklahoma, has not reported this virus.
Because it is so easily spread, 50 percent faster than the first COVID-19 virus, it is widely assumed it will eventually overtake the original COVID-19 virus as the main strain of COVID-19 in the United States and most countries. There is also a concern it has a higher death rate, but the CDC is studying to confirm this.
The good news is treatments and antibodies have shown to have the same effect in the UK variant as the original COVID-19 virus, allowing the world to continue using the tools developed over the past year.
South African Variant (266 cases in the United States as of March 25)
This variant was first discovered in South Africa in October 2020. It also has spread throughout the world, but it appears it is often overtaken by the UK variant. That said, in some African countries, like Zambia, it is the dominant COVID-19 virus.
There is some evidence that it can neutralize antibodies allowing for reinfection, however, there has been no evidence of any increase in severity of cases due to this variant.
Brazil Variant (79 cases in the United States as of March 25)
This variant has shown traits of being worrisome. Recently, a study was done in the Amazon where 75 percent of residents had already had COVID-19. However, a surge in cases led by the Brazil variant in the town gives a reason to believe this is a variant that is not affected by existing antibodies or vaccines.
However, it does not have the increased transmission of the other variants and has not become widespread. In fact, the first case in the United States was discovered in January and spread has been limited since then.
Only two states, Florida and Massachusetts, have more than 10 cases in their state and only 19 states have detected at least one case.The Centers for Disease Control has a great table to refer to in order to see variants in your location here.