COVID-19 Variants of Concern (VOCs)
PHO is working with the Ontario Ministry of Health, the provincial testing network for COVID-19 and other lab, research and health care partners to test for and monitor COVID-19 variants of concern (VOCs) in Ontario.
Variants are viruses that have changed or mutated. Variants are common with coronaviruses; however, a variant becomes a VOC when its changes have a clinical or public health significance that affects one or more of:
- transmissibility (spread)
- virulence (severity of disease)
- vaccine effectiveness
- diagnostic testing
VOCs identified globally and in Ontario include:
- B.1.1.7 variant first identified the UK
- B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa
- P1 variant first identified in Brazil
- B.1.617 variant first identified in India
PHO is actively monitoring, reviewing and assessing international research on COVID-19 variants. Please see the Synopsis of Key Articles webpage for summaries of COVID-19 variant research.