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A New COVID-19 Challenge: Mutations Rise Along With Cases

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FILE - In this Jan. 12, 2021, file photo a pharmacist draws saline while preparing a dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in Sacramento, Calif. Mutations to the virus are rapidly popping up and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, Pool, File)

Mutations to the virus that causes COVID-19 are rapidly popping up and health officials say the pandemic could get worse unless people do more to curb cases. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate. So far, vaccines seem to remain effective against the new variants, but the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a version of the virus that can elude defenses could emerge. In the United States, health officials say a new variant first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the U.S. by March and cause more hospitalizations and deaths because it spreads more easily.

 

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