The variant gambit: COVID-19’s next move

Jessica A. Plante, Brooke M. Mitchell, Kenneth S. Plante, Kari Debbink, Scott C. Weaver, Vineet D. Menachery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


More than a year after its emergence, COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, continues to plague the world and dominate our daily lives. Even with the development of effective vaccines, this coronavirus pandemic continues to cause a fervor with the identification of major new variants hailing from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, and California. Coupled with worries over a distinct mink strain that has caused human infections and potential for further mutations, SARS-CoV-2 variants bring concerns for increased spread and escape from both vaccine and natural infection immunity. Here, we outline factors driving SARS-CoV-2 variant evolution, explore the potential impact of specific mutations, examine the risk of further mutations, and consider the experimental studies needed to understand the threat these variants pose. In this review, Plante et al. examine SARS-CoV-2 variants including B.1.1.7 (UK), B.1.351 (RSA), P.1 (Brazil), and B.1.429 (California). They focus on what factors contribute to variant emergence, mutations in and outside the spike protein, and studies needed to understand the impact of variants on infection, transmission, and vaccine efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-515
Number of pages8
JournalCell Host and Microbe
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 14 2021


  • 2019-nCoV
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • coronavirus
  • furin cleavage
  • spike

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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