Answering COVID variant questions: How many are there? How are they being found?

More than 560K COVID cases reported in Michigan

Recently, many people have been asking about how many variants of COVID-19 actually exist.

DETROIT – Recently people have been asking about how many variants of COVID-19 actually exist.

The answer is that there is a huge number of variants, but internationally we are primarily focused on only three right now.

That is because the mutations that make them up have changed some important way the virus behaves, whether it is the ability to spread or the ability to evade immunity.

Within the US we are also concerned about and more closely following a variant that has been described in California.

Another frequently asked question is about how the new variants are being found.

The answer is that labs around the world are constantly doing gene sequencing on samples taken from infected patients.

Those viral sequences are compared to the original sequence and sequences that have been found since then.

When significant differences are found that gives rise to new variants. Finding new variants, especially ones that are spreading faster is dependent on running these sequences.

Details: Everything we know about virus variants in Michigan, US

Finally, a viewer wants to know how similar the United Kingdom variant is to the South African variant.

The answer is that some of the mutations that make up the South African variant are also found in the United Kingdom variant, but there are some significant differences, enough so that the South African variant really deserves its own discussion.

Read: Virus variant from South Africa detected in US for 1st time

The coronavirus pandemic is impacting our health in more ways than one. February is heart month and it is time to make your heart a top priority.

That is why Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. there will be a segment about four steps you can take now to get yourself back on a healthier heart track.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 562,510 as of Tuesday, including 14,672 deaths, state officials report.

Tuesday’s update includes 1,203 new cases and 63 additional deaths over the past two days, including 36 from a Vital Records review.

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About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.