Multiple variants of the COVID-19 virus have been reported across the globe, including in the United States. According to the CDC, viruses constantly change through mutations, so new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Some variants emerge and disappear while others emerge and persist.

One variant emerging in the United Kingdom seems to spread more easily and quickly than other variants. However, there’s no evidence of more severe illness or increased deaths. Other variants in South Africa and Nigeria seem to follow a similar pattern. Scientists are currently working on understanding how widely these variants have spread and how they differ. Right now it looks like current vaccines are effective against all these variants.

The best protection against any version of COVID-19, aside from a vaccine, is to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, wear a mask and wash your hands often.