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What is a COVID-19 variant?

Variants are a normal occurrence with viruses. The concern with the COVID-19 mutations is they may be more transmissible.

Three variants of COVID-19 are getting a lot of attention. 

Variants that first emerged in the U.K, South Africa, and Brazil have all been detected in the United States.

But what exactly is a variant? Will vaccines protect against them?

Variants form when a virus multiplies and mutates in an infected person. Most of the time the changes aren’t a big deal, but once in a while, a mutation can give the virus an advantage.

Health officials say the U.K., South African, and Brazilian variants may be more contagious. 

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More people getting infected with the virus means more hospitalizations and deaths.

Researchers say current vaccines do protect against the variant from the U.K. However, there are concerns they may be less effective against the variants from South Africa and Brazil.

Doctors say the best way to protect against new variants is to continue safety protocols to slow the virus’ spread, like social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands often.

They say it’s also important to get vaccinated as soon as you’re able because it will help keep new variants from emerging.