Vaccinated? Don’t toss that mask just yet.

The fight to end the pandemic has become a race against formidable opponents: variants.

Variants of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, are already proliferating around the world, complicating the fight to subdue the pandemic. In the U.S., a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus is now the dominant strain, and it’s helping drive a surge in cases of COVID-19 across the nation. Other, more transmissible variants are also spreading in the U.S., and public health experts have warned that more variants may still yet emerge.

Although the vaccines being administered offer hope, it’s not yet time to stop and celebrate, says Neil Maniar, associate chair of the Department of Health Sciences at Northeastern. “We’re not at the finish line yet.”

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