FAQ: COVID-19 Variants

Let’s keep learning and stay updated as we continue this fight against COVID-19. Read below for frequently asked questions about the current COVID-19 variants. We are committed to sharing fact-based information to keep you and your family informed and safe.

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How do mutations in the virus that causes
COVID-19 happen?

Viruses mutate or change often. Mutations happen at random during the copying process. When a virus is growing inside a person, it may change or become damaged while making more copies. In most viruses, these mistakes are harmless, but sometimes, a mutation can make a virus more concerning to scientists.

Do the current vaccines have the same effectiveness against COVID-19 variants?

Researchers are monitoring new COVID-19 variants closely. This includes research to see whether new variants may change the protective effects of the current vaccines. So far studies suggest that antibodies gathered through vaccination with the current authorized vaccines do recognize new variants.

What are the notable COVID-19 variants in the United States?

  • Alpha: This variant was first detected in the United States in December 2020. It was initially detected in the United Kingdom.
  • Beta: This variant was first detected in the United States at the end of January 2021. It was initially detected in South Africa in December 2020.
  • Gamma: This variant was first detected in the United States in January 2021. It was initially identified in travelers from Brazil, who were tested during routine screening at an airport in Japan, in early January.
  • Delta: This variant was first detected in the United States in March 2021. It was initially identified in India in December 2020.

When should I wear my mask?

Whether you have or have not been vaccinated, many health experts across the country are advising to protect yourself and others by wearing masks:

  • Any time you’re in a large group setting.
  • Any time you are traveling on a plane, bus, train, or other form of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • When you are around people who do not live with you, including inside your home or inside someone else’s home.
  • Inside your home if someone you live with is sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19.


  • Alpha: 該變種於2020年12月在美國首次被發現,最初在英國被發現。
  • Beta: 該變種於2021年1月底首次在美國被發現,最初於2020年12月在南非被發現。
  • Gamma: 該變種於2021年1月首次在美國被發現。它最初是在來自巴西的旅客中發現的,他們於1月初在日本機場常規篩查中被測試出來。
  • Delta: 該變種於2021年3月首次在美國被發現。它最初於2020年12月在印度被發現。

  • 任何時候在大型團體環境中
  • 任何時候當乘坐飛機、巴士、火車和其他公共交通工具進入美國、在美國境内旅行或離開美國,以及在美國的公共交通樞紐,例如機場和車站。
  • 當您與非同住者共處時,不論在您的家中或別人的家中。
  • 如果與您同住的人出現COVID-19症狀或COVID-19檢測呈陽性,在您家中應佩戴口罩。
Visit Vaccines.gov
To find a vaccination or testing site,
visit www.vaccines.gov.
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