COVID-19: How many variants besides Omicron and Delta are there today

Over time, all viruses change, something to which the , the virus that causes , which so far leaves tens of millions of deaths worldwide.

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According to the World Health Organization (), most of the time such changes do not have any effect on the properties of the virus, but there are cases in which they can have a significant influence.

Its ease in spreading, the severity of the associated disease or the efficacy of vaccines, drugs for treatment, diagnostic tools or other public and social health measures are subjects to which a lot of attention is paid.

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That is why WHO, together with partners, expert networks, institutions, researchers and more, has been monitoring and evaluating the evolution of since January 2020 in order to detect new variants; and before their appearance it has categorized them into: Worrying Variant (VOC), Interest Variant (VOI) and Variants Under Surveillance (VUM).

Here are the other COVID-19 variants detected so far, in addition to Ómicron, which is taking over the world. It should be noted that at 14 there were added two (, a combination of omicron and delta found in Cyprus; and UTI detected in France), but because there is little information, these are not cataloged by the WHO.

This photo taken on December 2, 2021 shows a syringe and a screen showing the main variants of SARS-Cov-2: Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma and Omicron, in Toulouse (Photo: Lionel Bonaventure / AFP)

WHAT ARE THE CURRENTLY KNOWN VARIANTS OF COVID-19?

On the website of the We found the updated information on the variants of SARS-CoV-2, according to their categorization:

A) Variant of Concern (VOC)

  1. Alpha (B.1.1.7): The first documented samples were registered in the United Kingdom, in September 2020. It is present in 179 countries.
  2. Beta (B.1.351): The first documented samples were registered in South Africa in May 2020. It is present in 119 countries.
  3. Range (P.1): The first documented samples were registered in South Africa, in Brazil in November 2020. It is present in 93 countries.
  4. Delta (B.1.617.2) The first documented samples were registered in India, in October 2020. It is present in 188 countries.
  5. Ómicron (B.1.1.529): The first documented samples were registered in South Africa and other nations, in November 2020. It is present in 105 countries.
A medical worker tests an N95 mask on a hospital worker at the Boston Health System campus and medical center of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (Photo: Joseph Prezioso / AFP)
A medical worker tests an N95 mask on a hospital worker at the Boston Health System campus and medical center of the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (Photo: Joseph Prezioso / AFP)

B) Variant of Interest (VOI)

  1. Lambda (C.37): The first documented samples were registered in Peru, in December 2020. It is present in 44 countries.
  2. Mu (B.1.621): The first documented samples were registered in Colombia, in January 2021. It is present in 57 countries.
A woman is tested for COVID-19 in a health center located on the street in Lima on January 11, 2022 (Photo: Ernesto BENAVIDES / AFP)
A woman is tested for COVID-19 in a health center located on the street in Lima on January 11, 2022 (Photo: Ernesto BENAVIDES / AFP)

C) Variants under surveillance

In this category are the COVID-19 variants “that present modifications in the genome that, as suspected, may affect the characteristics of the virus and seem to indicate that the variant may pose risks in the future” will be under surveillance by the WHO.

  1. AZ.5 (Antes B.1.1.318): The oldest documented samples were recorded in several countries, in January 2021.
  2. C.1.2: The oldest documented samples were recorded in South Africa, in May 2021.
  3. Kappa (B.1.617.1): The oldest documented samples were recorded in India, in October 2020.
  4. Iota (B.1.526): The oldest documented samples were recorded in the United States, in November 2020.
  5. Eta (B.1.525): The oldest documented samples were recorded in several countries, in December 2020.
  6. B.1.630: The oldest documented samples were registered in the Dominican Republic, in March 2021.
  7. B.1640: The oldest documented samples were recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in September 2021.

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