Why some coronavirus variants are more contagious—and how we can stop them
A cluster of viral mutations seems to be speeding the spread of COVID-19—and scientists are racing to understand how they work.
After a year of isolation, canceled events, and virtual meetings, pandemic fatigue is setting in. But even as more people let their guard down and allow safety measures to slip, a crop of fast-spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2 is moving through populations around the world. The rapid rise of a trio of mutated viruses hints at an increase in transmissibility, speeding the virus' leaps from one host to the next.
Scientists are now racing to decipher exactly how the jumble of mutations in each variant influences viral spread. This research is vital to understanding the risks from current lineages and predicting how future variants could alter the course of the pandemic.
"We have uncontrolled viral spread in much of the world,"