While there are numerous strains of the Coronavirus floating around, a few have become well known.
Here are the most common variants and everything you need to know about them
The Alpha Variant was discovered in the United Kingdom and the most common throughout the world before Delta. It’s been in 114 countries and spreads easier and faster than the regular virus with a transmission rate of 30-50%.
Vaccines work against this strain as well as monoclonal antibody-based therapy.
The was the first ever reported variant after the original virus.
The Beta Variant was discovered in South Africa and has been seen in 48 countries and 23 U.S. states. The mortality rate with Beta was 20% higher in South African hospitals compared to the first virus.
Vaccines seem to not work as well, nor does antibody therapy when used against the Beta strain.
The virus appeared to be more severe and contagious.
The Gamma Variant was discovered in Brazil and is 2.5 times more transmissible than other variants before it. Whether it creates more severe illness has yet to be determined.
Vaccines might be up to 50% less effective when defending against the Gamma variant.
The main concern at first was that this strain would re-infect those who had already had COVID, starting a second global wave. This did not happen.
The Delta Variant was first discovered in India and is twice as transmissible as variants. It’s detectable within four days of exposure and has been in 130 countries.
Vaccines are effective against severe illness and death, and breakthrough cases are usually mild.
It makes up almost 100% of new cases in the U.S. and has a viral load up to 1,260 times greater than the original strain.
The Mu variant was first detected in Colombia and has now been seen in 39 countries with 2,000 cases in the U.S.
It is unknown whether the vaccine is effective against Mu.
Mu may be more severe, but it has not spread enough to really know.
Related: How many variants of COVID-19 are there?
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