Alpha, Delta and More: Why Virus Variants Are Causing Alarm

Viruses mutate all the time, including the one, SARS-CoV-2, that’s caused the Covid-19 pandemic. Although most genetic changes are innocuous, some can make the mutant more adept at infecting cells, for example, or evading antibodies. Such “fitter” variants can outcompete other strains, so that they become the predominant source of infections. A succession of more-transmissible variants has emerged over the past year, each harboring a constellation of mutations. The most worrisome so far is the s

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