‘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

Mounting Evidence Points to Covid refugees from Mexican hospitals, Not Reopenings, as Significant…

What the hell is Tactile Internet ?

The Immensa loophole: Exploring the government’s role in the Dante lab scandal

Council Faces Blowback for Mask

New Orleans RTA: You’ve Failed this City

Is The Lab Leak Hypothesis Possible?

The Danger of Drug Shortages

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

Freedom, Democracy and the Choice to Opt out of COVID-19 Vaccination

Immune, a book by Philipp Dettmer

What to Know About Growing Rhubarb

A Magical Encounter: meeting magicians Doug Henning and Mars Barrick