A Third SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Interest (Potentially Concern) Emerges From Sub-Saharan Africa

It seems that not a week goes by without the report of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant of interest and possibly, a variant of concern. A variant of interest is the discovery of a cluster of new infections with a SARS-CoV-2 variant with mutants not previously identified. A variant of concern is a mutant virus that spreads rapidly in a population, in some cases displacing new cases of previous, less infectious variants. Here we describe a new variant of interest, B.1.620, that likely first appeared in Central Africa, but has also been detected in several European countries. The strain has mutations that suggest it may become a variant of concern.

As Dudas et al. suggest in their analysis of the B.1.620 variant, despite the variant first being detected in Europe, flight records and patient data suggest that it likely emerged in the Central African Republic and Cameroon. As passengers traveled between these African countries and European nations like Lithuania, Germany, and France, the variant created a foothold and spread in Europe. This reinforces the probable origin of the B.1.620 variant in Central Africa and the global nature of this pandemic. Covid-19 disease anywhere is of grave concern for everyone. 

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© William A. Haseltine, PhD. All Rights Reserved.