The Urgent Need For Increased Surveillance Of Variants That Arise From Chronic Covid

This is the fourth in a series examining the past, present, and future of the pandemic and viral variants.

In our discussion of SARS-CoV-2 mutant strains, it is important to reflect on how viral variation occurs to inform our surveillance of variant emergence. Where do these mutations come from that yield new variants? Is it possible that the most serious variants arise not in large populations, but in immunosuppressed individuals?

There is some evidence, which we will discuss here, that this is, in fact, the case. The virus is capable of surviving for months and upwards of a year or more within immunosuppressed hosts. During this time, SARS-CoV-2 has an opportunity to adapt to immune pressure, both natural pressures from our innate immune responses and treatments like monoclonal antibodies and convalescent sera. These adaptions take the form of genomic mutations. Viruses that emerge from these environments have the potential to be positively selected to become dominant strains.

Read the full article on Forbes.

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