New Belgian Variant Illustrates The Versatility Of SARS-CoV-2 In Escaping Immune Suppression

There is now a new mutant to add to the global SARS-CoV-2 variant collection, this one in Belgium. This new Belgian variant (B.1.214), first detected in January by researchers at the University of Liege, although it is only a relatively small percentage of cases domestically and abroad, it appears to have the potential to become quite pervasive. It has mutations, not only in the spike protein as many others have, but also in other parts of the genome, all of which may contribute to increased transmission, virulence, and immune evasion.

Beginning within the spike protein, the B.1.214 variant carries six total mutations. The function of the spike protein is to seek out and bind to ACE2 receptors of human host cells in the nasopharynx, intestines, and other parts of the body. It allows the virus to bind and open an entry port to the cell to infect and spread within the host. This is a frequent site of mutations for past variants, some of which may cause increased virulence and infectivity. Although the B.1.214 variant lacks some of the most common mutations, such as E484K, N501Y, and others, it has unique mutations of concern. Of these mutations, we believe the following is the most potentially troubling.

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