Tracking COVID-19 variants

October 1, 2021

Scientists scan COVID-19 virus samples taken from infected people to look for mutations through a process called genome sequencing. It’s the same method researchers have been using for years to study bacteria, plants, animals and humans. Viruses can mutate as they make copies of themselves after infecting a person. By sequencing virus samples over time, scientists can look for recurring changes in the genome. Health experts say most mutations are meaningless, but others can make a virus more contagious or resistant to vaccines and treatment. Experts are primarily concerned about three COVID-19 variants first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil. The variants seem to spread more easily, and research is underway to see if they cause more serious disease. Evidence suggests that current COVID-19 vaccines work against the variants.

(Source: The Associated Press)