Covid virus variants are real

25 August 2021
What was claimed

Viruses can’t exist outside of computer animations.

Our verdict

This is completely untrue. Knowledge about viruses has existed since the late 19th Century, and are known to cause many human illnesses including the common cold, smallpox and herpes.

What was claimed

SARS-CoV-2 variants don’t exist.

Our verdict

All viruses mutate over time, and SARS-CoV-2 is no exception. We know they exist because of genomic sequencing, and there are a number of Variants of Concern currently identified as such by the UK government.

A post on Facebook falsely claims that variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, and biological viruses as a whole, do not exist. 

Viruses exist 

The post seems to claim that viruses do not exist. This is wholly false. Viruses are microbes which are able to latch onto and multiply inside the cells of living organisms.

They are made up of a core of genetic material and surrounded by a protective coat called a capsid, which is sometimes also surrounded by an additional spikey coat called the envelope. 

SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, is just one type of virus in a family known as coronaviruses. Other viruses cause many types of human illness, including the common cold, measles and herpes. 

The post on Facebook claims they can’t exist outside of a “computer animation”. Discovered towards the end of the 19th Century, knowledge about their existence far precedes modern computers.  

SARS-CoV-2 variants do exist 

The post also claims that “there is no delta variant” nor any other variant of SARS-CoV-2. This is also incorrect.

All viruses mutate over time. We know they exist because of genomic sequencing, which allows scientists to detect differences in the genetic code of the virus. 

Most mutations are very small and have a limited impact on the virus, but some mutations can benefit the virus meaning it can potentially spread more quickly or evade existing vaccines more easily. 

It is these variants that then become designated Variants of Concern, such as the Alpha variant which was first identified in Kent and the Delta variant which was first identified in India.

We have covered similar claims in the past which allege that all the variants of Covid-19 were pre-planned. There is no evidence to support this. 

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because there is significant, longstanding evidence that viruses exist, and several variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified as Variants of Concern by the government.

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