Viruses are continually evolving, and there is no exception for SARS-CoV-2. Many variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been reported worldwide throughout this pandemic. Experts believe that the variants’ specific patterns of mutations have the potential to impact their transmissibility, virulence, and/or ability to escape from the immune system.
Few notable variants of SARS-CoV-2 are discussed here:
This set of coronaviruses emerged in Britain in December, where it was called Variant of Concern 202012/01; it is also referred to as 20I/501Y. V1, or B. 1.1.7. Coronaviruses from the B. 1.1.7 lineage are believed to be about 50% more contagious due to several mutations in its spike protein. Presently, B.1.1.7 has been reported in more than 70 countries. The CDC has cautioned that B. 1.1.7 could become the primary cause of all cases in the USA by March.
20H/501Y. V2, also known as 501.V2 (formerly 20C/501Y.V2) from the B.1.351 lineage of coronaviruses, was first reported in South Africa on 18 December 2020 and was detected in the United States in January. Since then, it has expanded to at least 24 nations.
20J/501Y.V3 is from the P.1 lineage, a descendant of the larger B.1.1.28 lineage. This variant was first detected in Japan in individuals infected with P.1 on vacation to Brazil. The lineage arose in late 2020 in Manaus, Brazil. P.1 is a close relative of the B.1.351 lineage, and it has a few of the very identical mutations on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
B.1.1.207 is the split from B.1.1.53, which was initially sequenced in August 2020 in the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Nigeria. This variant is predominantly found in the USA (89%), Mexico (3%), Ecuador (3%), UK (2%). Currently, no proof implies that B.1.1.207 has any impact on COVID-19 transmission or severity.
CAL.20C Variant was first detected in California at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in July 2020 in 1 of 1,230 samples accumulated in Los Angeles. CAL.20C spans the B.1.427 and B.1.429 lineages. It has multiple mutations in the S protein. Yet, it’s not proved whether it is more contagious or not. This variant surged in late 2020.
Cluster 5, also called ΔFVI-spike by the Danish State Serum Institute, was first uncovered in Northern Jutland, Denmark, in early November 2020. It is thought to have actually spread from minks to humans through mink farms. According to the WHO, cluster 5 has a reasonably lowered sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies.
COH.20G/501Y was initially reported by the Columbus-based Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and OSU College of Medicine.
S Q677H variant
The Midwest variant or S Q677H variant – the Viruses containing the S Q677H mutation have recently become prevalent in samples assessed in December and January in Ohio. There is no evidence of modified transmissibility, virulence, and/or immune evasion reported as of now.