Three distinct SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern have been detected and are now the subject of intense study: B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1. B.1.1.7 is thought to have emerged in the UK in November 2020 and is likely significantly more transmissible than preexisting variants of SARS-CoV-2. B.1.351 was first detected in South Africa in October 2020 and seems to have an ability to escape the neutralizing antibody response elicited by previous infection and reduce the efficacy of vaccines in development. P.1 was first detected in Brazil in January 2020 and, like B.1.351, seems like it is able to escape the neutralizing antibody response elicited by previous infection. All three of these variants have a S:N501 mutation that differentiates them from other variants.
There is substantial concern that additional variants that are more transmissible and/or can evade preexisting immunity will arise. One such variant of interest (VOI) that has recently emerged is B.1.526, a variant identified in New York that may escape preexisting immunity and/or immunity induced by current vaccines.
Data sources and more information:
- US COVID-19 Cases Caused by Variants
- Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variants
- Emergence of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 Lineage — United States, December 29, 2020–January 12, 2021
- Escape of SARS-CoV-2 501Y.V2 variants from neutralization by convalescent plasma
- Resurgence of COVID-19 in Manaus, Brazil, despite high seroprevalence
- Alarming COVID variants show vital role of genomic surveillance
- The Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID) website - https://www.gisaid.org/
- Next Strain - https://nextstrain.org/
How many variants of concern will be monitored by the US CDC as of 4 April?
This question will resolve as the number of variants of concern at the following link: “US COVID-19 Cases Caused by Variants” page as of Sunday, 2021–04-04. For example, as of 2021–03-02 this page shows that there are three variants: B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1. This page is updated on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays by 7pm ET and will be accessed at approximately 10pm ET on 2021–04-04 (a Sunday).