Variants for the Virus that Causes COVID-19
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. If you think about a virus like a tree growing and branching out, each branch on the tree is slightly different than the others. The CDC is monitoring multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, including four in the United States that seem to spread more easily than others. So far, studies suggest that current authorized vaccines work on these variants. The CDC recommends that everyone ages 12 and older should get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible. The CDC has additional specific recommendations regarding COVID-19 vaccines for people with disabilities.
Variants in the United States
Currently there are four notable variants in the United States. These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.
So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants.
- B.1.1.7 (Alpha): This variant was first detected in the United States in December 2020. It was initially detected in the United Kingdom.
- B.1.351 (Beta): This variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January 2021. It was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020.
- P.1 (Gamma): This variant was first detected in the United States in January 2021. P.1 was initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January.
- B.1.617.2 (Delta): This variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021. It was initially identified in India in December 2020.
This post is an excerpt of the July 6 newsletter from the CDC titled “About Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19“