TAMPA, Fla — As the US works to get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic, new variants of the virus are popping up around the world.
The CDC says viruses are constantly changing, and new variants are expected to occur over time. While some may stick around, others will disappear as quickly as they emerged.
Scientists are still working to find out how these variants spread, what kind of illnesses they cause, and how our vaccines can hold up against them. Here's what we know so far:
UK variant B.1.1.7
This variant was first found in the UK in the fall of 2020 and was detected in the US in December. B.1.1.7 spreads more quickly and easily than other variants. Some scientists think it could be associated with an increased risk of death, but more studies are needed to confirm this.
Reported cases in the US: 2,400 in 46 jurisdictions
Reported cases in Florida: 599
South African variant B.1.351
Originally detected in South Africa in early October 2020, this variant was reported in the US at the end of January 2021. It emerged independently of the UK variant.
Reported cases in the US: 53 in 16 jurisdictions
Reported cases in Florida: 5
RELATED: Florida's first case of South African B.1.351 coronavirus variant found in Hillsborough County
Brazilian variant P.1
This variant was first discovered in early January when travelers from Brazil were tested at an airport in Japan. It was first detected in the US at the end of January 2021. The CDC says antibodies may have trouble detecting this variant because of its additional mutations.
Reported cases in the US: 10 in 5 jurisdictions
Reported cases in Florida: 1
Scientists say these variants could put a strain on our healthcare system as they seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants of COVID-19.
So far, studies show that our current vaccines are effective against these variants, and more studies are underway.
As we continue to learn more, the CDC says the best way to protect yourself is to continue practicing distancing, wearing masks, and washing your hands.
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