Variants are new versions of the virus responsible for the Covid-19 epidemic.
3 main variants have been discovered: one in the UK, one in South Africa in 2020… and one in Brazil, (sometimes called Japanese), in January 2021.
But where do these new virus versions come from?
Viruses mutate to survive! It’s true for viruses and for all living organisms.
These mutations help species evolve and are what causes diversity.
When a virus infects a cell, it provides instructions to be able to make many identical viruses.
For the Covid-19 virus, these instructions are coded in a molecule called RNA.
This molecule is copied when the virus spreads. Copies can contain errors and we call these mutations.
The more the epidemic gains ground, the more the virus multiplies… and the more mutations there are.
Some mutations don’t give the virus any advantage and may even weaken it and so go unnoticed.
But other mutations make it stronger. They make it easier for it to spread and replace less efficient versions of the virus.
Scientists all over the world are studying these transformations closely to find solutions to protect us against them.