The Atlantic

Listen: Coronavirus Mutations

How bad are the new COVID-19 variants, really?
Source: NIAID / The Atlantic

After a new variant of the coronavirus spread throughout the United Kingdom, daily cases hit record levels and the prime minister ordered a national lockdown. Now more mutations from South Africa and Brazil have made headlines. The prospect of a more transmissible virus has many worried, but exactly how bad are these new mutations? And should you change anything you’re doing already?

Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the Galveston National Laboratory who studies coronaviruses, joins staff writer James Hamblin and executive producer Katherine Wells on the podcast Social Distance to explain.

Listen to their conversation here:

Subscribe to Social Distance on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or another podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they’re published.


What follows is a transcript of the episode, edited and condensed for clarity:

My understanding is that virus mutations happen all the time. And the lesson I learned in the early days of this pandemic was: Don’t worry about them too much because it’s normal, and it doesn’t mean it’s worse just because it’s mutated. These latest mutations in the news seem different and more worrisome, but I don’t understand why.

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