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Variants and Vaccination

Public health officials are pushing for greater SARS-CoV-2 vaccination to combat the rise of additional viral variants, CNN says.

"Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories," William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University Medical Center tells it.

CNN notes that mutations arise in all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, adding that SARS-CoV-2 is not actually very mutation-prone. Most mutations that do crop up have little effect, but some weaken the virus and others can give the virus an edge. That, it adds, can allow them to out-compete other versions of the virus and establish themselves as a viral variant. For instance, the Alpha variant, which was first uncovered in the UK, was found to be more transmissible than the original viral strain, and now is being replaced by the Delta variant, which is itself more transmissible than the Alpha variant.

But, CNN adds, if the virus can't spread, it can't mutate. However, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are about 1,000 US counties in which less than 30 percent of the population is vaccinated.