January 29, 2021
Variants: It's All in the Mutations

Variant and strain: while the two terms are often interchanged with each other, the words indicate two different, related concepts. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the strain of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2; however, several variants of the strain have emerged that are indicated by small mutations on the strain itself.

“A new strain occurs when a virus goes through one or more mutations that change its behavior in some way, but a variant develops when a virus goes through a mutation of any kind,” explained Dr. Patricia Couto, an infectious disease physician at Orlando Health in Florida.

Many variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified, but three variants have dominated headlines as they raise questions about the severity of disease caused and/or efficacy of vaccine candidate. You can view the list of identified mutations by the CDC here.  
COVID-19 Related News

Johnson & Johnson says its COVID-19 vaccine is 66 percent effective; however, may fall short against other variants.

Related: Johnson & Johnson will deliver about 2 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine upon emergency-use authorization.

In UK trials, Novavax vaccine shows 89 percent efficacy.

Democrats prepare to pass COVID-19 relief legislation without Republican votes.

The White House COVID-19 response team will brief the nation after the South African variant is detected in the U.S.

The State of Illinois updated its COVID-19 webpage to include vaccine allocation and distribution information.

CNBC examines how your stimulus checks received in 2020 will be categorized with the IRS.

Carle eases some limitations for visitors and support persons.

9.8 percent of Champaign County residents have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The C-UPHD expands its vaccination clinics for in-person staff at State of Illinois approved early childhood and licensed daycares and K12 schools. 

In Other News

President Biden reopens the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges as he signs executive orders on health care.

The Department of Homeland Security uses federal alert system for first time in a year to warn of domestic terrorism threat.

NBC News shares how Reddit and Robinhood caused GameStop stock to surge.

2020 Champaign County home sales highest in 14 years.

Rantoul candidate forums are scheduled for February.

The City of Urbana to discuss a resolution condemning structural racism. 
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