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Coronavirus variants: how did they evolve and what do they mean?

By Ed Feil, Professor of Microbial Evolution at The Milner Centre for Evolution, University of Bath
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When supplies of oxygen at hospitals in Manaus, Brazil, recently ran out, the airforce was called in for emergency evacuations while healthcare workers frantically tried to save lives with manual ventilation. For those that could not be saved, there was only morphine and a final hand-squeeze.

As calamitous as the situation is for those affected, the devastating surge in COVID cases in Manaus over the last few weeks has set alarm bells ringing ever more loudly for governments and agencies around the world struggling to manage the pandemic. Cases continue to surge in the UK and South…

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