February 2, 2021

What do we know about the new variants of coronavirus?

Reports of new variants of coronavirus (a.k.a. SARS-CoV2) have surfaced in the U.S. in the past month. With these changes in the SARS-CoV2 genome come concerns that the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer may not be as effective. Take a deep breathe - things are not as bleak as they seem! In this episode, we explain viral variants. How do they arise? And, importantly, what do we know about how these mutations change the current situation for COVID-19 (infection rate, vaccine immunity, symptoms)?

 

Sources

New variant info:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-emerging-variant.html

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-01-covid-variant-states.html 

Track new variant by state: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant-cases.html

Vaccine concerns:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/08/health/pfizer-vaccine-variant-strain-mutation/index.html

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.07.425740v1

Infectivity:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/23/health/coronavirus-uk-variant.html

https://cmmid.github.io/topics/covid19/uk-novel-variant.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/01/08/954967079/coronavirus-faq-how-do-i-protect-myself-from-the-u-k-variant

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.12.24.20248834v1

Viral mutation rate: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02544-6

Viral neutralization test: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plaque_reduction_neutralization_test

Flu virus mutations: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/viruses/change.htm

What is BioRxiv: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioRxiv

BioRxiv Moderna 1/25: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.25.427948v1 

Update 1/25 new variants: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/25/health/coronavirus-moderna-vaccine-variant.html?auth=login-email&login=email 

Brazilian variant: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-brazil-strain-confirmed-minnesota/ 

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2021/01/21/958953434/reinfections-more-likely-with-new-coronavirus-variants-evidence-suggests

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