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The success of the vaccination program in the fight against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is being hampered by the virus continually mutating.
Many of the changes have little impact on the virus, but some alter how it spreads and the severity of the resulting disease. The mutations may also alter the performance of vaccines.
The World Health Organization (WHO) tracks all SARS-CoV-2 variants. The organization adds them to its list of variants of concern if they do any of the following:
The current list includes the Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), Gamma (P.1), Delta (B.1.617.2), and Omicron (B.1.1.529) variants.