Viruses constantly change through mutation and sometimes these mutations result in a new variant of the virus. Some variants emerge and disappear while others persist. New variants will continue to emerge. CDC and other public health organizations monitor all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the United States and globally.
Scientists monitor all variants but may classify certain ones as variants being monitored, variants of interest, variants of concern and variants of high consequence. Some variants spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19.
These classifications are based on how easily the variant spreads, how severe the symptoms are, how the variant responds to treatments, and how well vaccines protect against the variant.
Omicron – B.1.1.529
First identified: South Africa
Spread: May spread more easily than other variants, including Delta.
Severe illness and death: Due to the small number of cases, the current severity of illness and death associated with this variant is unclear.
Delta – B.1.617.2
First identified: India
Spread: Spreads more easily than other variants.
Severe illness and death: May cause more severe cases than the other variants
Testing, testing, testing
Testing helps us identify cases, trace contacts, and prevent spread. With fewer cases, public health professionals can find contacts easier and sooner. Stopping spread will make the variant viruses less of a threat.
So please don’t stop seeking testing if you have symptoms; it is still important to know how many cases of COVID-19 there are. If we only know about the severe cases that required hospitalization, it will skew the statistics, and be less representative of the true extent of the pandemic.
Information and misinformation
There has been much of both in the past year, some deliberate, some well intentioned, some valuable, some just plain wrong. Whenever possible, get your information directly from the source, not “a friend of a friend’s second cousin”. Here are some tips for finding reliable information
7 resources for responsible sharing on social media
In this time of social distancing, the digital world can be a valuable source of connection if used responsibly. Thank you for joining me .
exploring the HEART of ending the pandemic
Please do your friends a favor by sharing this post on social media and even in real conversations. I don’t know when or even if I will do a final COVID-19 update. The SARS-CoV-2 virus may go away eventually, but another may sooner or later take its place. We will need to be vigilant.