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Why are the COVID variants becoming more contagious | Why Guy

ABC10's Medical Expert Dr. Payal Kohli said that the "more cases of the virus there are, the more the virus mutates."

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Today's Why Guy question comes to us via Facebook from April Racki Sullivan, who asks, "why are the COVID variants becoming more contagious, could it be we've messed with nature and now we have created these variants by slowing the spread?" 

April, many people share your concern. Three new variants have popped up, one from the United Kingdom another from Brazil and one getting a lot of interest from South Africa. Two people in South Carolina randomly got the South African variant. Are these variants to be expected?

"Evolution is a natural force when there is pressure on a virus to evolve, it can tend to evolve faster. The more cases of the virus there are, the more the virus mutates"  ABC10's Medical Expert Dr. Payal Kohli said.

In the case of the new variant from the U.K., it already has 23 mutations to it and they're all mutating quickly. It's estimated that this virus can accumulate a genetic mutation about every two weeks.

"The rampant number of cases gave the virus plenty of opportunity to divide, mutate and accumulate these genetic mutations. By stopping the spread, we'll slow the pace at which it divides and these mutations occur," Kohli said.