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Show full transcript for Coronavirus variants of concern video
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All viruses, including Coronavirus the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time. Most of these changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties.  However, some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures.

The World Health Organisation have defined new variants of Coronavirus in two main ways, variants of concern (VOC) and variants of interest (VOI).

A Coronavirus variant that meets the definition of a Variant of Interest and through a comparative assessment, has been demonstrated to be associated with one or more of the following changes at a degree of global public health significance:

Increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; or
Increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; or
Decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics. 

A variant of concern is a Coronavirus variant that meets the definition of a variant of interest and, through a comparative assessment, has been demonstrated to be associated with one or more of the following changes at a degree of global public health significance:

Increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; or
Increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; or
Decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.

Variants may be classified in one group and later moved to another. More information is available on www.who.int.