Distinct viral clades of SARS-CoV-2: Implications for modeling of viral spread

J Med Virol. 2020 Sep;92(9):1386-1390. doi: 10.1002/jmv.25902. Epub 2020 Jun 24.


Distinct viral clades have a likely impact on COVID‐19 pathogenesis and spread. Sequence analysis from 2310 viral isolates from Nexstrain reveals that residue at 614 of the viral spike protein is changed from a putative ancestral aspartic acid (D) to a glycine (G) between two viral clades. The G strain is predominantly on the East Coast of the United States, and the D strain is predominantly on the West Coast. This mutation of the SARS‐CoV‐2 S protein spike is conserved in coronaviruses. Point mutations in a murine coronavirus spike protein can result in increased virulence through instability of the viral machinery and altered viral to cell membrane fusion. This observation may partially explain the discrepancy in predicted deaths from COVID‐19 between the East Coast and West Coast, and possibly explain that other factors aside from social distance, such as competition between two strains of differing virulence, may be at play.

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MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mutation
  • Pandemics
  • Phylogeny
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Virulence