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What to know about COVID-19 variants

There are emerging variants of COVID-19 – like in the U.K. and South Africa -  which the lab is now in the process of getting, to begin testing on those.
Posted at 3:22 PM, Nov 29, 2021

CINCINNATI — With the latest COVID-19 variant emerging as one of the more dangerous, President Joe Biden said in a press conference on Monday that the variant omicron is a reason for concern, but not for panic.

Local health leaders said on Sunday that more information about the variant is needed before they can determine if it will lead to change in protocols.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, new variants of viruses are expected to occur. This happens when an RNA virus like COVID-19 mutates. The best way to slow the spread of new variants is to slow the spread of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated, which cuts a person's overall risk of severe illness or hospitalization. All COVID-19 tests can detect all variants, but they can't tell you which variant of the virus you have if you test positive.

As of Nov. 26, there are five variants listed as "variants of concern" by the World Health Organization. They're listed as follows:

  • Alpha: Earliest documentation in the UK in September 2020
  • Beta: Earliest documentation in South Africa in May 2020
  • Gamma: Earliest documentation in Brazil in November 2020
  • Delta: Earliest documentation in India in October 2020
  • Omicron: Earliest documentation in November 2021 across multiple countries.

What is a variant of concern?

A COVID-19 variant that is associated with one or more of the following changes at a degree of global public health significance:

  • Increase in transmissiblity or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology
  • Increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation
  • Decrease in effectiveness of public health, social measures, available diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics
COVID Variants of Concern Nov. 29

WCPO: President updates on new COVID-19 variant
WCPO: How concerned should you be about the Delta variant?