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The rapid rise in various parts of the world of deadly, more infectious COVID-19 variants that share new mutations is leading scientists to ask a critical question — has the SARS-CoV-2 virus shown its best cards?

New variants first detected in such far-flung countries as Brazil, South Africa and the U.K. cropped up spontaneously, within a few months, late last year. All three share some of the same mutations in the important spike region of the virus used to enter and infect cells.

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