(Richmond, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH), in collaboration with the Department of General Services’ (DGS) Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (state public health lab), launched a COVID-19 Variants of Concern dashboard. The dashboard includes variants of concern received from participating laboratories for specimens that tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are concerning as they may increase the risk to human health. The variants may:
- Spread more easily
- Cause more severe illness
- Escape the immune protection provided by available COVID-19 vaccines or by natural infection with the virus that causes COVID-19
- Make viral tests less accurate
- Make some treatments less effective
COVID-19 variants have been emerging and circulating around the world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Results on variants of concern that are reported to VDH are quite small compared to the total number of tests conducted daily. However, VDH uses this information to estimate that there are many more cases of COVID-19 caused by these variants circulating statewide than what are identified. As of this week approximately 1000 variants of concern have been reported to VDH. This number increases daily. Click here for more information on Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19.
With the threat of these new variant strains spreading, it is important now, more than ever, to wear a mask correctly over your mouth and nose, stay at least six feet from others, avoid crowds, wash your hands often, and get vaccinated for COVID-19. Taking part in all of these public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. The best way to stop variant strains from developing in the first place is to stop the spread of the virus.
The dashboard will be updated once a week and available on the VDH website at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-insights/.