SARS-CoV-2 biology and variants: anticipation of viral evolution and what needs to be done.

Environmental Microbiology
Ruibang LuoAntoine Danchin


The global propagation of SARS-CoV-2 and the detection of a large number of variants, some of which have replaced the original clade to become dominant, underscores the fact that the virus is actively exploring its evolutionary space. The longer high levels of viral multiplication occur - permitted by high levels of transmission -, the more the virus can adapt to the human host and find ways to success. The third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is starting in different parts of the world, emphasizing that transmission containment measures that are being imposed are not adequate. Part of the consideration in determining containment measures is the rationale that vaccination will soon stop transmission and allow a return to normality. However, vaccines themselves represent a selection pressure for evolution of vaccine-resistant variants, so the coupling of a policy of permitting high levels of transmission/virus multiplication during vaccine roll-out with the expectation that vaccines will deal with the pandemic, is unrealistic. In the absence of effective antivirals, it is not improbable that SARS-CoV-2 infection prophylaxis will involve an annual vaccination campaign against 'dominant' viral variants, similar to influenza prophyl...Continue Reading


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