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Will the New COVID-19 Variants Increase Reinfection Rates?
What Is a Variant?
Robert Bollinger, MD, MPH, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, tells Verywell that “a variant is when those mutations occur sufficiently, or in a place in the virus that causes the virus to function differently."
Mutations in viruses occur often and are to be expected. Bollinger says that while the mutations don’t mean much in terms of how the virus functions, if the mutations lead to a change in how the virus works, then we pay more attention to it.
“The other kind of change that we worry about is when that mutation leads to a variant that is less likely to be blocked by the immune response that we might have against an earlier variant," says Bollinger. "So that's the [concern] with vaccines and some of these variants, and it's also an issue with reinfection.”