There are many variants of the coronavirus circulating around the world, but health experts are primarily concerned with the emergence of three variants that were first detected in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. They seem to spread more easily and research is being done to see if they cause more serious illness.
When a virus infects people, it can mutate by copying itself. Certain mutations can be harmful to a virus, causing it to die. Others may offer a benefit and help it spread.
“Not all mutations are created equal,” said Mary Petrone, who studies infectious diseases at Yale University. “The virus is going to get lucky once in a while.”
Monitoring for variants is important because they could make vaccines and treatments less effective or change the way they infect people.
A mutation at the start of the pandemic fueled the spread of the virus around the world, but there has been no noticeable change since – until recently, the Ohio State University biologist said, Daniel Jones.
One of the three main variants that experts are watching was discovered in the UK late last year and has been detected in dozens of countries since. Health officials …
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