Delta, Alpha, Beta, Mu (and many more). Here’s an easy-to-understand list of COVID-19 variants

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, change over time.

Experts have warned that the virus that caused a global pandemic will continue to evolve as it continues to spread around the world. Some of these changes can affect how easily the virus spreads, the severity of symptoms, the effectiveness of vaccines, and other properties.

There are several new variants that researchers are closely monitoring, including B.1.621, also known as Mu, and C.1.2, some of which are what it suggests is a variant with multiple mutations.

And these are just the variants that we have been able to identify.

The World Health Organization, along with other networks, has been monitoring and evaluation the evolution of the virus that causes COVID-19 since January 2020. Later in the year, variants emerged, prompting the United Nations agency to divide them into two categories: Variants of Interest (VOI) and Variants of Interest ( VOC) to assist in response to the pandemic. VOCs are those VOIs that have been shown to be the most severe, most transmissible, or most resistant to vaccines or other measures.

A group of experts convened by the WHO recommended the use of letters from the Greek alphabet, ie Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta to make it easier and more practical to discuss the variants with “non-scientific audiences”.

As new variants of COVID-19 continue to mutate and threaten countries around the world, here’s a look at the various strains and their origins.

Variant: B.1.1.7

WHO label: Alpha

Status: COV

First identification: United Kingdom

Description: This variant spreads faster than other variants. Scientists say there is a possibility that new infections are associated with an increased risk of death.

Designation Date: December 18, 2020

Variant: B.1.351

WHO label: Beta

Status: COV

First identification: South Africa

Description: It first emerged in October 2020 in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

Designation Date: December 18, 2020

Variant: P.1

WHO label: Gamma

Status: COV

First identification: Brazil

Description: Initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were evaluated during a routine examination at an airport in Japan, in early January.

Designation Date: January 11, 2021

Variant: B.1.617.2

WHO label: Delta

Status: COV

First identification: India

Description: The Delta variant has multiple mutations that seem to give it an advantage over other strains. It is more transmissible, which would also make it the most dangerous variant yet. One study indicated that B.1.617.2 may be more transmissible than the original strain of the coronavirus.

Designation date: April 4, 2021

Variant: B.1.525

WHO label: Eta

Status: VOI

First identification: various countries

Designation date: March 17, 2021

Variant: B.1.526

WHO label: Iota

Status: VOI

First identification: United States of America

Designation Date: March 24, 2021

Variant: B.1.617.1

WHO label: Kappa

Status: VOI

First identification: India

Designation date: April 4, 2021

Variant: C.37

WHO label: Lambda

Status: VOI

First identification: Peru

Designation date: June 14, 2021

Variant: B.1.621

WHO label: Mu

Status: VOI

First identification: Colombia

Designation Date: August 30, 2021

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