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Why epidemiologists are so worried about the new Covid-19 variants, in 2 charts

Vox – A slightly more transmissible variation of Covid-19 can be much more dangerous. “A more contagious SARS-CoV-2 virus is a deadlier one. Not because it gets any individual sicker but because it reaches more people. More illness means more cases: more mild cases, more severe cases, more long-term complications, more hospitalizations, and more deaths. There’s no one perfect estimate for how much more contagious the SARS-CoV-2 variant called B.1.1.7, which was first discovered in the UK, might be. There needs to be more careful lab work done in animals to nail it down, which could take a few more weeks. But preliminary estimates find it to be between 30 percent and 70 percent more contagious. This variant is now popping up all over the world: in the US, throughout Europe, in Asia, and elsewhere. It’s especially concerning, considering that, in the US and elsewhere, the pandemic’s spread is still reaching new heights. There’s also a variant called 501Y.V2 that was first found in South Africa; it appears less widespread than B.1.1.7, but also to be more contagious than older variants. It’s still possible that other more transmissible variants will emerge in the future. Scientists just don’t know. Regardless of exactly how transmissible any new variant is, any possible increase in transmissibility is extremely concerning to epidemiologists and others in public health. It means now, more than ever, our collective and individual actions to stop the spread are critically important. Here are a few key reasons why…”

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