SARS-CoV-2 Variants and Mutations
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has many variants; some are or have been believed to be of particular importance. This page discusses notable variants of SARS-CoV-2 and notable missense mutations found in these variants.
Last update: April 26, 2021 at 11:59 P.M. ET
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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has many variants; some are believed or have been believed to be of particular importance due to their potential for increased transmissibility, increased virulence, and reduced effectiveness of vaccines against them. This page discusses such notable variants of SARS-CoV-2 and notable missense mutations found in these variants.
The sequence WIV04/2019, belonging to the GISAID S clade / PANGOLIN A lineage / Nextstrain 19B clade, is thought likely to most closely reflect the sequence of the original virus infecting humans known as "sequence zero", and is widely referred to as such and used as a reference sequence.
No consistent nomenclature has been established for SARS-CoV-2. Colloquially, including by governments and news organizations, concerning variants are often referred to by the country in which they were first identified, but as of January 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working on "standard nomenclature for SARS-CoV-2 variants that does not reference a geographical location".
Each coronavirus contains nearly 30,000 letters of RNA. This genetic information allows the virus to infect cells and hijack them to make new viruses.
Image from The New York Times
Cases of Variants of Concern in the United States
SARS-CoV-2 Variants Globally
The map shows which countries have reported variants of SARS-CoV-2. Because of differences in detection and reporting, variants are likely present in some countries that have not yet reported them. The lack of reporting of a variant in a country does not indicate the variant is absent in that country.
Variants of Concern
Images from The New York Times
Coronaviruses that appear to be more infectious than other circulating coronaviruses.