Covid variants

You may have heard about Covid variants. They may be described as “the UK variant,” “the South African variant,” or “the Brazil variant,” naming the part of the world where that variant was detected. Mutations, changes in the virus’s genetic code, only happen when the virus is allowed to grow. But all viruses mutate, forming variants. Although we might want to assign them to spread by travelers from the UK, South Africa, or Brazil, Covid variants have more likely mutated where they were, without traveling. Many mutations don’t affect the virus’s ability to spread or cause disease because they don’t alter the major proteins involved in infection. But, of course, not all mutations will be benign.

Illustrated explanation of variants | Emerging variants | New variants

CDC studies variants

CDC and other scientists are working to determine how easily the variant strains can be transmitted, current vaccines’ effectiveness against them, and whether current tests can detect them. Then, of course, they want to know how to treat those infected by Covid variants.

Key questions scientists are paying attention to are:


  • Whether they can spread more quickly in people.
  • If they cause either milder or more severe disease in people.
  • Whether they can evade detection by specific viral diagnostic tests.
  • If current medicines can’t treat them as well.
  • Whether they can evade natural or vaccine-induced immunity.


How does a scientist identify a variant?

How will Covid variants affect me?

Of course, your first defense against Covid variants is to get a vaccine against the Covid-19 virus. That will help to lessen the places the virus can mutate. Don’t let the virus into your body. Then the virus can’t use your cells to multiply, grow, and change.

Continue to be safe by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Scientists do not know whether people who have had Covid-19 or who have been vaccinated can still transmit the virus.

Build up your immune system, if you can. Studies have shown that people with a depressed immune system can be more susceptible to viral infection because their bodies can’t make sufficient antibodies to protect against it.  This effectively allows the virus to make mutation after mutation, as discussed in this account on NPR. Viruses, in general, are opportunists, making Covid variants as often as they can.

Get tested before you travel. Here are CDC guidelines for flying.

For more information about Covid-19:

No miracle cureTexas COVID-19 vaccineCOVID-19 vaccines

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