Popularization of research advances on COVID-19


The D614G mutation makes the virus more infectious

The SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged in Wuhan in China at the end of 2020 and rapidly spread worldwide. The entry of the viral particle into the cell depends upon the interaction of the spike (S) surface viral protein, or more specifically the RBD (“Receptor Binding Domain”), with the ACE2 cellular receptor. During the pandemic a variant […]


What are the effects of mutations in the South African variant?

The 501Y.V2 variant of SARS-CoV-2, known as the South African variant, is now the dominant strain in South Africa and is spreading rapidly within other countries. This variant principally contains 8 mutations in the spike surface protein: L18F, D80A, D215G, K417N, E484K, N501Y and A701V, and 1 deletion of 3 amino acids, Del242-244. Researchers in […]


Monitoring international variants

Mutations of SARS-CoV-2 occur at an average of 1-2 per month. The majority of these mutations are not worrying, but some of them can have serious consequences. They may, for example, make the virus more easily transmissible or give it greater capacity to evade immunity conferred by vaccination. The first variant giving cause for concern […]


Different variants in a single patient

The SARS-CoV-2 spike protein enables the entry of the virus into the cell. Its RBD (receptor binding domain) is the principal target of neutralizing antibodies that block this mechanism. British and African researchers (at University College London, CITIID Cambridge, and AHRI Durban) studied the evolution of this protein in a man in his seventies, immunocompromised, […]


The N439K mutation is spreading and is resistant to certain antibodies

Worldwide molecular studies have identified 330 000 SARS-CoV-2  viral sequences which have been collected and shared via the GISAID Initiative ( This data is essential to observe the evolution of the pandemic and the emergence of new variants. Mutations appear within the spike protein, which interacts with the ACE2 cellular receptor to enable the virus to […]


SARS-CoV-2 variants

Manaus is one of the most affected cities in Brazil. Despite having reached levels of infection where herd immunity should occur (see letter December 14-20 2020), it nevertheless succumbed to a second wave in December 2020. As a consequence, 31 samples were taken in order to try to understand the resurgence of the pandemic; […]


Are the newly discovered variants more dangerous?

New variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been discovered recently, notably the VOC202020/01, known as the “English variant” and the 501Y.V2, known as the “South African variant”. Scientists are trying to understand why these variants seem to spread so quickly, and if the new vaccines will still give protection against them. The genomes of the 2 variants […]


Could the new British variant be more dangerous?

A new variant coming from the United Kingdom has just been discovered. This new strain of the virus has 17 mutations, of which the most important is situated in position 501 of the spike protein (N501Y, where the asparagine amino acid is replaced by a tyrosine amino acid). In principle this mutation allows SARS-CoV-2 to […]


A mutant virus could be more efficient in replication and transmission

The spread of a viral pandemic may be a favourable environment for mutations potentially able to modify the development of the illness, its virulence, and the virus’ capacities for transmission. SARS-CoV-2 possesses a correction activity as its genome is replicated. As a result there are relatively few mutations that accumulate over time in comparison with […]

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