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Difference Between Variant Covid-19 and Covid-19

Variant Covid-19 is a different strain of the original Covid-19 virus. Covid-19 is the coronavirus that was first noticed in China and was noted to cause a type of respiratory illness in people.

What is Variant Covid-19?


Variant Covid-19 describes a different form of the originally discovered Covid-19 virus. These variant forms of the virus have changes in a spike protein that are due to a mutation; in some cases there are more than 10 mutations that have occurred affecting various features of the virus.

Countries in which cases have occurred:

More than one new variant has been discovered including, SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01 found in the UK. A variant of Covid-19 was also detected in Denmark and South Africa. In South Africa the variant is called 501.V2 and is different from the other strains since the virus contains a mutation that codes for the E484K; this is one of the spike proteins found on the coat of the virus.

Structure of virus:

There is more than one variant of Covid-19.These variants have slightly different structures depending on what type of genetic mutations have occurred. In the case of the virus VOC 202012/01, there have been various synonymous and non-synonymous mutations as well as a deletion. The synonymous mutations don’t change the amino acids that are made while a synonymous mutation does. The deletion has changed the spike protein shape. Scientists are still researching how the genes have changed in all of the different types of variants and if these alterations could affect how pathogenic the virus is.

How contagious and deadly:

Both the new variant found in South Africa and the variant found in the UK are thought to be more easily transmitted than the original coronavirus. This means that the virus is able to spread faster through the population. This is probably why the second wave of Covid-19 in both these regions has seen more cases than was seen with the first wave of Covid-19. So far, there is no evidence to indicate that any of the variants cause a more deadly disease. The mortality rate may appear greater because, in some cases, the virus has spread much faster. Some Covid-19 variant strains are 71 to 75% more easily transmitted than the original Covid-19 virus resulting in many more people becoming infected within a shorter space of time than usual.  The consequences of this have been a second surge of cases in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

What is Covid-19?


Covid-19 is the name for novel coronavirus, which was first noted in Wuhan, China in late 2019. The virus causes an infection which adversely affects the lungs, and people may struggle to breathe if they become severely ill. 

Countries in which cases have occurred:

Covid-19 is a virus that now occurs around the world in every country. It is thus classified as a pandemic and vaccination has begun in some places.

Structure of the virus:

The Covid-19 virus is a type of beta-coronavirus that has an appearance in which it looks as though the virus has a crown due to the presence of proteins on the outer surface. The S or spike protein has a coating of a type of carbohydrate to help avoid detection by the immune system.

How contagious and deadly:

The virus is definitely easier to catch than the influenza virus but it is not as contagious as the measles virus. The mortality rate is ten times greater than the seasonal flu and is more likely in people who have comorbidities such as diabetes and heart disease. Older individuals are also at increased risk for severe infection and symptoms than younger people. 

Difference between Variant Covid-19 and Covid-19?


Variant Covid-19 is the term used to describe a different strain of the original Covid-19 virus. Covid-19 is the original strain of beta-coronavirus that infects people.


The Variant Covid-19 has a slightly different morphology than the original Covid-19 as it has changes to spike proteins, which are due to different mutations. Covid-19 has spike proteins coated in a type of sugar molecule.

Time when first detected

The first Variant Covid-19 viral strain was detected in January of 2020. The original Covid-19 virus was first noticed in December 2019.

Countries where detected

Denmark, countries of the UK, South Africa, and United States all have some type of Variant Covid-19 present, although these are not all the same strain. The original Covid-19 is found worldwide, including even Antarctica.

How contagious

Some of the Variant Covid-19 strains are up to 0.7 times more contagious than original Covid-19, with a rate of transmission anywhere from 71 to 75% higher. The original Covid-19 virus is 0.7 times less contagious than the variant strain.

Table comparing  Variant Covid-19 and Covid-19

Summary of Variant Covid-19 Vs. Covid-19 

  • Variant Covid-19 and Covid-19 are both viruses that cause respiratory illness in people in which the lungs are affected.
  • Variant Covid-19 is a newer strain of the coronavirus that arose and in some cases, is more contagious than the original virus.
  • Variant Covid-19 is a mutated form of the Covid-19 in which spike proteins have been changed in some way.

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References :

[0]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Interim: Implications of the Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variant VOC 202012/01”. CDC, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-emerging-variant.html

[1]Cascella, Marco, et al. "Features, Evaluation and Treatment Coronavirus (COVID-19)." StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2020.

[2]World Health Organization. “SARS-CoV-2 Variants”. WHO, 2021. https://www.who.int/csr/don/31-december-2020-sars-cov2-variants/en/

[3]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/corona-variant-corona-variant-5847501/

[4]Image credit: https://www2.mrc-lmb.cam.ac.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/COVID-19-LMB_7-20.jpg

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