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Quick update: COVID Variants

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

DISCLAIMER: This article was written on August 6, 2021. By the time you are reading this, the below information may be outdated. Thank you for your understanding.

Health Officials in 221 countries/territories have reported 4.3 million deaths since China reported its first cases to WHO in December 2019.

^ Courtesy of CNN Health


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the world, health officials have been monitoring certain mutations that might be more dangerous than the original virus. So far, the mutations that have been classified as "variants of interest" by the WHO (World Health Organization) are the Delta, Epsilon, and Lambda variants.

The Delta variant, scientifically known as B.1.617.2, has a mutation that allows it to more easily affect human cells, and it is also more contagious. Public health experts estimate that when someone gets infected with delta, they spread it to three or four other people. The original strain only spreads to one or two other people. Doctors and scientists also think that it may be able to escape from protection such as vaccines and COVID treatment.

What does the Delta variant mean for the vaccinated?

Based on data, the delta variant is very rare among the vaccinated. Two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine seemed to be 88% effective against the disease, and 96% effective against hospitalization. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine seems to be less effective; being 60% effective against the disease and 90% effective against hospitalization. [More on vaccinated population numbers later. ]

What does the Delta variant mean for the unvaccinated?

People who aren't fully vaccinated are supposedly most at risk, as studies show that kids and unvaccinated adults make up 50% of the cases reported in the US. Children and unvaccinated adults in the UK are 2.5 times more likely to become infected with Delta.

Where did the Delta variant come from?

It was first identified in India in December 2020, which led to major outbreaks in the country. It then spread rapidly to 104 countries, and is now the most dominant form of COVID - 19.

What is the Epsilon variant?

This variant was first detected in Southern California [US]. It has now been reported in more than 30 countries, and studies show that this variant may make COVID treatments and vaccines less effective. However the CDC have downgraded from "variant of concern" to "variant of interest" due to a decrease in cases across the US.

What is the Lambda variant?

The Lambda variant was first identified in Peru in August 2020. Scientists are not sure how deadly it could be/whether vaccination status has anything to do with it, as this accounts for less than 1% of cases in the US.

Thank you to the following sources for their helpful information:

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