Amidst the second wave of the pandemic across the globe, three (3) new variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in recent weeks in the United Kingdom (SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01), South Africa (SARS-CoV-2 501.V2) and Nigeria (SARS-CoV-2 P681H). The SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01 variant in particular, has been implicated in more than 1,000 cases especially in South-East of England, purportedly accounting for 60% of new infections in London. It has so far spread to at least 17 countries, causing rising global concerns. Twenty-three (23) separate mutations particularly in the S gene of the variant have been detected at a time, 17 of which were linked to the building blocks of proteins that form the virus. One of the most important is an N501Y mutation in the spike protein that the virus uses to bind to the human angiotensin converting enzyme Type-2 (ACE2) receptor. Experts opined that changes in this portion of the spike protein is responsible for the increased transmissibility. The potential implications of this observed mutations in terms of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccine development is still being studied. Enhanced genomic and epidemiological surveillances is important to stay one step ahead of the virus in the molecular-arm-race. At the moment, Research efforts are ongoing to learn more about the variants to better understand how easily they might be transmitted and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against it. Information regarding the virologic, epidemiologic, and clinical characteristics of the variants are rapidly emerging. This review seeks to examine the current scenario, potential Consequences and future direction for the emerging new variants.
|Annals of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
|Published - 2 Nov 2020