SARS-CoV-2 Variants

Without transmission, there are no mutations.

Variants of Concern

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, is reasonably stable, genetically. It has a self-correcting function that reduces an accidental deletion, duplication, or changes to its RNA code. However, with many hosts to infect, the probability of a translation error increases as the virus replicates.

The Center for Disease Control has identified multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants. There are three classifications based on specific genetic markers that are predicted to affect transmission, diagnostics, therapeutics, or immune escape.

  • Variants of Interest (VOI)
  • Variants of Concern (VOC)
  • Variants of High Consequence (VOHC)

“The threat posed by the more contagious variant partly lies in the time it takes for the number of COVID-19 cases to double, between 10 and 15 days (B.1.1.7), far fewer than the estimated 40 days of the current coronavirus strain.” ….. Dr. Troy Day

Source: A model created by Professor Troy Day of how the new coronavirus variant could spread in Ontario. (Ontario Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables.)

Community Immunity

Without transmission, there are no mutations.

Immunity is irrelevant if new COVID-19 strains are resistant to the vaccines now used.

The goal of widespread vaccination means that the SARS-CoV-2 virus will not infect as many people once we achieve 80-90% of people vaccinated worldwide. By creating ‘community or herd immunity’, we can more effectively reduce the transmission of the virus from host to host. Such immunity reduces the risk of significant viral genetic mutations, which can lead to immune escape, meaning the vaccines are not as effective or do not work against it at all.

We need to get the world vaccinated with the vaccines in distribution quickly.

Virologists leave no doubt that new variants of COVID-19 will continue to evolve, and new boosters will be required globally.

Resiliency Against Variants

While we may achieve community immunity with mass vaccination, what remains crucial for each person is how well their antibodies will function to protect them against COIVD-19.

The strength of a person’s immunity is determined by:

  1. Quantity of your antibodies against the wild and variant strains
  2. How well your antibodies can bind to the virus and neutralize the wild and variant stains

LEARN MORE: COVID-19 ANTIBODIES TEST KITS

The Newer Virus Strains

  • 1.526 (New York)
  • 1.525 (New York)
  • 2 (Brazil – April 2020)

Predicted Attributes of VOI are potential reduction in neutralization by monoclonal antibody treatments, convalescent and post-vaccination sera.

  • 1.1.7 (UK)
  • 1 (Brazil/Japan)
  • 1.351(South Africa)
  • 1.426 (California)
  • 1.429 (California)

B.1.1.7 (UK)

  • ~50% increased transmission
  • Likely increased severity based on hospitalizations and case fatality rates
  • Minimal impact on neutralization by EUA monoclonal antibody therapeutics
  • Minimal impact on neutralization by convalescent and post-vaccination sera

P.1 (Brazil/Japan)

  • Moderate impact on neutralization by EUA monoclonal antibody therapeutics
  • Reduced neutralization by convalescent and post-vaccination sera

P.1.351(South Africa)

  • ~50% increased transmission
  •  Moderate impact on neutralization by EUA monoclonal antibody therapeutics
  • Moderate reduction on neutralization by convalescent and post-vaccination sera

B.1.427 (California)

  • ~20% increased transmissibility
  • Significant impact on neutralization by some, but not all, EUA therapeutics
  • Moderate reduction in neutralization using convalescent and post-vaccination sera

B.1.429 (California)

  • ~20% increased transmissibility
  • Significant impact on neutralization by some, but not all, EUA therapeutics
  • Moderate reduction in neutralization using convalescent and post-vaccination sera

A variant of high consequence has clear evidence that prevention measures or medical countermeasures (MCMs) have significantly reduced effectiveness relative to previously circulating variants.

Thankfully, at this time, there are no SARS-CoV-2 variants that rise to the level of high consequence.

Resource Links to Current Data on Variant Strains around the world

Canada by Province   |   America by State   |   United Kingdom   |   European Union

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