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What are COVID Variants?

 

Experts in Connecticut are closely watching the rise of COVID-19 variants that have caused a spike in infections across the globe. Viruses are expected to evolve and mutate, resulting in these new strains of COVID-19. However, there is some concern that some variants may be more dangerous. Richard Martinello, MD, Medical Director of Infection Prevention answered some commonly asked questions about variants, and explained how to stay safe.

How many variants are there?

Around the world, there are about a dozen different variants tracked by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All of these variants are in Connecticut.

Is the Delta variant more dangerous?

There are two factors that are concerning about the Delta variant. The first is that this variant can spread more easily between people. There is also some data suggesting it leads to more severe infections. Because of this, it is possible the Delta variant could lead to another spike in infections.

Should I wear a mask again?

Just like with the first two waves of COVID-19, mask wearing is just one tool we can all utilize to help protect against the spread of this virus. If you are in a crowded area, or with people who are unvaccinated, you may want to consider wearing a mask.

Does the vaccine protect against the Delta variant?

So far, we are finding the COVID-19 vaccine to be highly effective, even against the Delta variant. Vaccination is the single most important thing we can do to protect others and ourselves against COVID-19. As more people get vaccinated, the better protected we will all be. If there is another wave due to new variants, vaccinations may also help reduce hospitalizations.

Learn more about how to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

How long will the vaccine protect me from the variants?

Right now, it is not known how long the vaccines will protect us from COVID-19, but they are expected to be effective for at least one year. While there is no recommendation for a booster shot at this time, it could be a possibility in the future.