Coronavirus variants: Here’s how the SARS-CoV-2 mutants stack up
Several strains of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19, have emerged across the globe. Viruses mutate all the time, so these new variations were not surprising; however, when a modified version becomes a dominant strain in a region or one with worrisome features, public health experts name and follow those versions. Many of the so-called SARS-CoV-2 mutants show modifications to the virus’s spike protein — which the virus uses to latch onto and invade human cells. As such, the various genetic mutations have in some cases increased transmissibility and even possibly severity of illness associated with those particular variants. Here’s a look at the science behind SARS-CoV-2 variants and which ones are the most concerning in different areas.