The worst COVID-19 variants ranked

A woman receives a throat swab during mass testing for COVID-19 in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021.
Chinatopix via Associated Press

Cases of — and concerns about — COVID-19 are rising across the U.S. and around the world. Thousands of different variants exist worldwide, but some have become dominant variants of concern, reported the BBC. These new, more transmissible variants have begun spreading worldwide, and keeping track of them is increasingly complicated.

Here are the worst COVID-19 variants ranked.

6. The alpha variant

First detected in the U.K. in December 2020, the alpha variant is more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain detected in Wuhan, China. Alpha is anywhere from 30% to 50% more infectious than other variants currently circulating, reported The New York Times.

The alpha variant has been detected in more than 110 countries and became the dominant variant worldwide by this spring, per The New York Times.

5. The possible ‘zeta’ variant, or B.1.621

First detected in Colombia and more recently detected in South Florida, the B.1.621 variant has not yet received a Greek-letter designation, reported The Washington Post.

This variant is under further investigation with many questions unanswered. Current data on the B.1.621 or “zeta” variant remains preliminary, reported The Washington Post.

4. The delta plus variant

A mutation of the delta variant, the delta plus variant, was first detected in Europe in March but is believed to have originated in India alongside the original delta variant, reported The Washington Post.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not consider the delta plus variant to be independent of the delta variant, per The Washington Post. So fully considering the danger of the delta plus variant requires understanding the danger of the delta variant.

3. The delta variant

Currently surging around the world, the delta variant was first detected in India in October 2020. The strain has been found to be more transmissible and cause more severe disease than other variants, reported the Deseret News.

The delta variant has become the fastest-growing variant of concern and the dominant variant in the U.S., per The New York Times. Infections are surging across the U.S., driven by the delta strain of coronavirus.

2. The lambda variant

First detected in Peru in August 2020, the lambda variant is thought to be more dangerous than the original strain of coronavirus, reported Popular Science. The variant has now been detected in 29 countries, including the U.S., per Newsweek.

Less research has been conducted on the lambda variant, leaving many questions about the strain and many unknowns, per Newsweek. Lambda has not yet been labeled a “variant of concern,” but further research is needed.

1. A currently unknown variant

As variants such as delta and lambda have emerged, experts have begun warning that future coronavirus mutations could lead to more transmissible and more vaccine-resistant variants, reported the Deseret News.

At the end of the day, “this is a novel coronavirus,” said Preeti Malani, of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan, per The Washington Post. “We’re still learning about it. Each of these variants bring new challenges.”

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