COVID-19: Variants and Mutations List
Synopsis: Information and list of Variant of Concern (VOC) and Variant Under Investigation (VUI) mutations of COVID-19 coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Natural evolution over time creates small genetic changes as viruses continually make new copies of itself to spread and thrive. B.1.1.7 appears to have substantially increased transmissibility compared to other variants and has grown quickly to become the dominant variant in much of Britain.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), officially named SARS- CoV-2, a global health emergency. "There are around 4,000 variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 around the world now."(1) Although there are believed to be thousands of variants, they haven’t all been identified aside from a handful(2). It should be noted that it was not unexpected that new COVID-19 variants (different versions) would develop as it has a certain type of genome, called an RNA genome, that is more prone to undergoing changes or mutations. Natural evolution over time creates small genetic changes as viruses continually make new copies of itself to spread and thrive.
Main Concerns of New COVID-19 Variants
- 1 - Does the mutation in the virus cause it to be more severe, or cause higher rates of death?
- 2 - What is the mutations effect on vaccination and therapeutics? As the virus changes over time, does the efficacy of vaccines decline?
- 3 - Does the variant spread easier? Are we going to start seeing more cases due to the virus gaining ability to be transmitted from one person to another more efficiently?
Viruses can't mutate if they don't replicate. This makes the act of vaccination, physical distancing, and using face coverings very important to help prevent the number of infections - which in turn will slow the emergence of new variants and mutations.
What is the difference between a Variant of Concern and a Variant Under Investigation?
- VOC = Variant of Concern
- VUI = Variant Under Investigation
SARS-CoV-2 variants - if epidemiological, pathogenic or immunological properties are considered to be of concern are raised for investigation - are designated Variant Under Investigation (VUI) with a year, month, and number. After a risk assessment by experts, they may be designated a Variant of Concern (VOC).
NOTE: Currently, there is no agreed international naming system for variants. Due to rapidly emerging information, the table below may not always reflect the most current data.
|Variant||Also Called||First Detected||Information|
|VOC-202012/01||UK or Kent Variant (B.1.1.7)||England||The COVID-19 variant (B.1.1.7) has 23 mutations. B.1.1.7 appears to have substantially increased transmissibility - in medicine, transmissibility is a synonym for basic reproduction number and refers to transmission - compared to other variants and has grown quickly to become the dominant variant in much of Britain. The VOC-202012/01 variant was first detected in the UK and was first sequenced in the UK in September 2020. Also known as UK or Kent Variant, B.1.1.7 has spread to over 50 countries and appears to be mutating again. There is some research that suggests variant B.1.1.7 may be associated with a 30% higher risk of death. However, the current evidence is not conclusive.(3)|
|South Africa||The variant B.1.351 has multiple mutations located in the S protein. Scientists are currently concerned about the South African COVID-19 variant, also known as 501.V2 or B.1.351. The South African variant has now been found in at least 20 countries, including the United Kingdom. The VOC-202012/02 variant was first detected in South Africa and was first sequenced in the UK in December 2020. Scientists are currently trying to update coronavirus vaccines, as research suggests they may be less effective against the South African variant.|
|Brazil||This variant has 17 mutations, including 3 located in the S protein. Scientists have reported the Brazil coronavirus variant appears more contagious and may evade immunity provided by past infection. The VUI-202101/01 variant was first detected in Brazil and was first sequenced in the UK in November 2020. Reports from Manaus - hit hard by the P.1 variant - suggest VUI-202101/01 could be up to twice as transmissible as earlier Covid infections.|
Descendent of B.1.1.28
Ex Manaus, Brazil
|The VOC-202101/02 variant was first detected in Japan in travelers from Brazil in January 2021 and was first detected in the UK in February 2021. The VOC-202101/02 variant contains 12 mutations on the Spike protein giving the appearance of "crown" to SARS-CoV-2, including the N501Y mutation that it shares with British variants VOC2020 / 01 and South African 501.V2|
|England||The VUI-202102/01 variant was identified first in Liverpool, Britain, in December 2020 and has been flagged for investigation. The VUI 202102/01 or "Liverpool" variant has the E484K spike protein mutation and a small number of other mutations that collectively thus far have only been seen in the UK.|
|England||VOC 202102/02 (B.1.1.7 cluster with E484K). The VOC-202102/02 variant was first detected in the UK in December 2020. VOC-202102/02, first identified in Bristol, has been labeled a "variant of concern". The VOC-202102/02 variant is currently the 4th variant of concern identified by the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG).|
(previously designated UK1188)
|England||VUI-202102/03 (PHE), formerly UK1188, variant was first detected in the UK in December 2020. First identified as a geographically dispersed cluster in UK on the 2nd Feb. 2021. This variant was designated VUI on detection and on review re-designated as VUI 202102/03 (B.1.525) on 12th February 2021.|
|VUI-202102/04||B1.1.318||TBC||Cases of variant VUI-202102/04, also known as B.1.1.318, contains the E484K mutation and was first identified on February 15th through genomic horizon scanning. The VUI-202102/04 variant's location of first detection is to be confirmed.|
|TBC||The VUI-202103/01 variant's location of first detection is to be confirmed. VUI-202103/01 (lineage B.1.324.1) was designated a variant under investigation on March 4th 2021 after cases were found in the South East of England in individuals who had recently traveled to Antigua.|
|VOC-2021/11/24||B.1.1.529||South Africa||Omicron COVID-19 variant (Named Omicron by the WHO) was identified in November 2021 in Botswana and South Africa.|
Because the new COVID-19 variants appear to spread more easily it is important to be extra vigilant by taking safety measures such as keeping your distance from other people, washing your hands often, and wearing a mask, or some form of face covering, to help prevent spreading further infections circulating among the population.
Anger Spreads Against COVID-19 Anti-vaxxers As Cases Rise
(1) - https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/u-k-says-4-000-variants-of-virus-that-causes-covid-19-around-the-world-1.5295730
(2) - https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/1405988/covid-new-strains-how-many-coronavirus-variants-are-there-UK-where-postcode-locater-EVG
(3) - https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55659820
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