Many viruses frequently change through mutation. These mutations add up and create slightly different versions of the virus, called “variants.” Sometimes new variants appear and then disappear. Other times, new variants stay around. They are called variants of concern if there is evidence that they spread more easily, cause more serious illness, are harder to detect, treat or prevent with vaccines. Scientists continue to study and track these variants as they evolve.

Many variants of COVID-19 have emerged in the United States. At this point, the original version of the virus that was spreading in January 2020 is no longer circulating.

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