SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Interest

SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest (or variants of concern) are evolutionary offshoots in the SARS-CoV-2 phylogenetic tree that are at least temporarily evolutionarily stable due to outcompeting other strains in their immediate geography.

While there is no guarantee that SARS-CoV-2 variants are correctly identified or defined, these are resources with descriptions and definitions:

See also

Online Resources

General Research on SARS-CoV-2 Variants

Variants of Concern (VOC)
WHO Label Pango lineages GISAID clade Nextstrain clade Additional amino acid changes monitored Earliest documented samples Date of designation
Alpha B.1.1.7 GRY 20I (V1) +S:484K and +S:452R United Kingdom (Sep, 2020) Dec 18, 2020
Beta B.1.351 GH/501Y.V2 20H (V2) +S:L18F South Africa (May, 2020) Dec 18, 2020
Gamma P.1 GR/501Y.V3 20J (V3) +S:681H Brazil (Nov, 2020) Jan 11, 2021
Delta B.1.617.2 G/478K.V1 21A +S:417N India (Oct, 2020) Apr 4, 2021
Omicron B.1.1.529 GR/484A 21K - Multiple nations (Nov, 2021) Nov 24, 2021
Lambda C.37 GR/452Q.V1 21G - Peru (Dec, 2020) June 14, 2021
Mu B.1.631 GH 21H - Colombia (Jan, 2021) Aug 30, 2021

Potential Consequences of SARS-CoV-2 Mutation

Early during the pandemic, research indicated no evidence across over 15,000 SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated from patients worldwide that mutations led to increased transmissibility.1) In Congress, Dr. Anthony Fauci notes that all RNA viruses mutate, “but that doesn't mean they change,” suggesting that evolution of the virus was not likely to change vaccine efficacy.2)

Reproduction Numbers (R_t)

  • Dec 11, 2021 - Figgins and Bedford (preprint): SARS-CoV-2 variant dynamics across US states show consistent differences in effective reproduction numbers.3)

List of SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Interest

The Greek alphabet is being used to name SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest.

Alpha Variant (B.1.1.7)

The alpha strain (UK variant) has 19 nonynonymous mutations across its genome including 8 substitutions or deletions in the spike protein. These changes in the spike protein result in enhanced fitness and transmission.4)

Beta Variant (501Y.V2/B.1.351)

Gamma (P.1) Variant

Delta Variant (B.1.617.2)

The delta strain appears to have emerged from India, and may have been an (immune) escape variant.5) Early data from the UK indicated that delta was far less lethal and that vaccines were far less effective against it.6) 7) However, case fatality rates around the world seem to remain unchanged despite delta taking over the lion's share of cases.

  • Claim: The reproductive number of delta is substantially higher than for prior variants (5.08 vs. 2.79).8)
    • The study tests over a small number of locales, and without respect to vaccine interaction, which might influence R given evidence that delta was an escape variant.

Lambda Variant

Came from Peru.

Omicron (B.1.1.529)

Initially named a “variant of concern” by the WHO, Omicron appears to be a “cousin” of SARS-CoV-2, not part of the variant lineage.

Evolutionary Origins of SARS-CoV-2 Variants

Debate over the manner and emergence of some SARS-CoV-2 variants has been tenuous during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Caused by Mass Vaccination

An Emergency Room doctor told financial YouTuber Gregory Mannarino on air that he believes “all variants are likely caused by the vaccine.”9)

Niesen et al: vaccination dampens antigen mutational variance https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.07.01.21259833v1

Bret Weinstein, talking to Joe Rogan, explains that Geert van den Bosch predicted that the vaccines would cause variants through evolutionary pressure. And here we are.

Vaccine Resistance

Wang et al: Mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 evolution revealing vaccine-resistant mutations in Europe and America. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34873910/

1)
May 21, 2021 | van Dorp et al | Nature Communications | doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19818-2
2)
Published June 26, 2020 | House Energy & Commerce Committee | Anthony Fauci grilled by Rep. Kurt Shrader over Covid-19 vaccine
3)
December 11, 2021 | Figgins & Bedford | preprint | doi.org/10.1101/2021.12.09.21267544
4)
March 9, 2021 | Liu et al | preprint | doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.08.434499
8)
October 7, 2021 | Liu & Rocklov | Journal of Travel Medicine | doi.org/10.1093/jtm/taab124
9)
Mannarino, G. [Gregory Mannarino]. (2021, November 26). ALERT ALERT! Banks WARN On New Variant, AND AN ER DOCTOR COMES FORWARD TO TELL THE TRUTH! Mannarino [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nPcF1o09EI
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