The COVID-19 pandemic, which began in Wuhan (Hubei, China), has been ongoing for about a year and a half. An unprecedented number of people around the world have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the etiological agent of COVID-19. Despite the fact that the mortality rate for COVID-19 is relatively low, the total number of deaths has currently already reached more than three million and continues to increase due to high incidence. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a large number of sequences have been obtained and many genetic variants have been identified. Some of them bear significant mutations that affect biological properties of the virus. These genetic variants, currently Variants of Concern (VoC), include the so-called United Kingdom variant (20I/501Y), the Brazilian variant (20J/501Y.V3), and the South African variant (20H/501Y.V2). We describe here a novel SARS-CoV-2 variant with distinct spike protein mutations, first obtained at the end of January 2021 in northwest Russia. Therefore, it is necessary to pay attention to the dynamics of its spread among patients with COVID-19, as well as to study in detail its biological properties.
Keywords: COVID-19; Russia; SARS-CoV-2; northwest (NW) variant; variants of concern.