The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is wreaking havoc throughout the world and has rapidly become a global health emergency. A central question concerning COVID-19 is why some individuals become sick and others not. Many have pointed already at variation in risk factors between individuals. However, the variable outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infections may, at least in part, be due also to differences between the viral subspecies with which individuals are infected. A more pertinent question is how we are to overcome the current pandemic. A vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 would offer significant relief, although vaccine developers have warned that design, testing, and production of vaccines may take a year if not longer. Vaccines are based on a handful of different designs (1), but the earliest vaccines were based on live, attenuated virus. As has been the case for other viruses during earlier pandemics, SARS-CoV-2 will mutate and may naturally attenuate over time (2). What makes the current pandemic unique is that, thanks to state-of-the-art nucleic acid sequencing technologies, we can follow in detail how SARS-CoV-2 evolves while it spreads. We argue that knowledge of naturally emerging attenuated SARS-CoV-2 variants across the globe should be of key interest in our fight against the pandemic. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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