New Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19March 2021

As expected with virus mutations, new variants may emerge and then quickly disappear. Sometimes the new variants will emerge and linger. Multiple variants of COVID-19 have been circulating globally during the pandemic, including within the US.

A South African and a Brazilian variant of the virus seem to be spreading more easily and more quickly than other variants, which could lead to more cases of COVID-19. Not unlike the original COVID-19 outbreak, this increase in cases would lead to more hospitalizations and potentially more deaths.

To date, studies suggest that antibodies created through the authorized vaccines recognize these new variants. While the virus and its variants continue to be closely monitored, more studies are ongoing to learn more about the control of their spread.

We don’t know how widely these new variants have spread or how the disease caused by the variants differs from the disease caused by other variants that are circulating. Nor do we understand how these variants may affect existing therapies, vaccines, and other tests.

Continued rigorous and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies, such as vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, is essential to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.

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