SARS-CoV-2 variants: A double-edged sword?

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2021 Aug;246(15):1721-1726. doi: 10.1177/15353702211014146. Epub 2021 May 22.


Since the worldwide emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been international concerns about the possible viral evolution into variants with underlying mutations that may contribute to their increased transmissibility, disease severity, risk of death, and their potential escape from the immune response or may even lead to its extinction. Rigorous surveillance has revealed the variants harboring mutations in the spike protein, the main target of neutralizing antibodies generated through vaccination or herd immunity. In this review, we have highlighted major SARS-CoV-2 variants as well as other local strains along with their specific mutations, suspected changes in their characteristics, and their impact on the current pandemic and vaccine efficacy. We have also emphasized the need to develop widely protective interventions to curb further transmission of variants.

Keywords: B.1.1.7; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; mutations; spike protein; variants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Vaccines / pharmacology*
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity


  • COVID-19 Vaccines