A Second East African Variant: A.23.1

A new and unusual variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been found in Africa. First detected in Uganda as early as October 2020, the A.23.1 variant is now found in at least 26 other countries. A.23.1, at present, accounts for under 2,000 sequences of the 3.5 million in the GISAID SARS-CoV-2 database. A.23.1 is not yet classified as a variant of concern or interest, but is definitely worth careful observation. A.23.1 contains several mutations found in variants of concern as well as six unique substitutions, four of which are in the Spike protein (Figure 1). Here we describe the potential effects of each mutation, within and external to the Spike protein, on replication, immune evasion, and pathogenesis. The first observation is that A.23.1 does not share a common origin with all of the variants of interest or concern, including Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, or Mu. All of these variants carry a triad of mutations: C241U mutation in the 5’ untranslated region, D614G in the Spike protein, and P323L in NSP12. This reflects their common origin from the first major variant to sweep the globe. A.23.1 shares four amino acid changes with a previously described variant, A.30, originally detected in Angola, but thought to originate in Tanzania. Neither of these two East African variants contains the triad of other variants of concern. Read the full article on Forbes.
© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.