‘There are thousands of variants of SARS-CoV-2 circulating in the population, and only a handful are ‘variants of concern’.”

A handful of coronavirus variants have become household names during the pandemic, including B.1.1.7, the so-called U.K. variant, and B.1.351, the South African variant. There are many others. Variants arise because viruses naturally mutate when they replicate, and, given the high rates of Covid-19 infection, SARS-CoV-2 has had many opportunities to do so.

Georgetown University virologist Angela Rasmussen, PhD, wants people to know that most coronavirus variants aren’t worth worrying about. As science journalist Tara Haelle reports in Elemental, scientists are monitoring only three variants of concern: the aforementioned two, plus P.1., first identified in Brazil. The rest are just “variants of interest” — those that scientists are just keeping an eye on.

Importantly, none of the mutations seen in the variants “will change how a mask works,” says Rasmussen. “The virus didn’t suddenly acquire the ability to go through walls.”

Read on to learn why some SARS-CoV-2 variants make headlines, while others get dismissed as “scariants”:

--

--

--

A blog from Medium for Covid-19 news, advice, and commentary.

Recommended from Medium

Divorced Parents at Odds Over COVID-19 Vaccinations and Child Safety

My COVID19 Story

The 10 most prevalent CLIA deficiencies and how to avoid them.

COVID-19 : How to protect yourself !

COVID-19 Keeps the Home Fires Burning

Why It Makes No Sense to Wait to Get a Booster Shot

Rahm Emanuel on Food Deserts and the Pandemic

An Opportunity for the Economy

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Coronavirus Blog Team

Coronavirus Blog Team

A real-time resource for news, advice, and commentary brought to you by Medium.

More from Medium

The FLNC. Who are they? And why are they rising again?

How do Vaccines Work? What are they supposed to do?

Endocrine disrupting chemicals in your daily live