An updated framework for SARS-CoV-2 variants reflects the unpredictability of viral evolution

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, SARS-CoV-2 variants have been designated as variants of concern (VOCs) and variants of interest (VOIs) on the basis of their potential to replace previously circulating variants and cause new waves of increased transmission globally; such variants may require adjustments in public health responses. During the first two years of the pandemic, four VOCs and eight VOIs were designated by the World Health Organization (WHO), and these were overall closely related to the index virus.

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