WHO is closely monitoring 10 Covid variants as virus mutates around the world

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The World Health Organization is closely following 10 coronavirus variants “of interest” or “of concern” across the world, including two that were first detected in the U.S. and a triple-mutant variant that’s wreaking havoc in India, as potential global public health threats.

New Covid-19 strains pop up every day as the virus continues to mutate, but only a handful make WHO’s official watchlist as a “variant of interest” or the more serious designation “variant of concern,” which is generally defined as a mutated strain that’s more contagious, more deadly and more resistant to current vaccines and treatments.

The organization has classified three strains as variants of concern: B.1.1.7, which was first detected in the U.K. and is the most prevalent strain currently circulating throughout the U.S.; B.1.351, first detected in South Africa, and the P.1 variant, first detected in Brazil.

One variant of interest is the B.1617 variant, or triple-mutant strain, first found in India, but the WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, said more studies are needed to completely understand its significance.

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