I have been looking at this "new variant" of the virus which causes COVID-19 and the British Medical Journal has said

What do we know about this new SARS-CoV-2 variant?
It’s been snappily named VUI-202012/01 (the first “Variant Under Investigation” in December 2020) and is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. One of the most significant is an N501Y mutation in the spike protein that the virus uses to bind to the human ACE2 receptor (Wise, 2020).

Yet, The University of Sheffield (2020) pointed out that there was a virulent "new strain" (G614 vs D614) identified sometime before July. Is this the same variant but renamed to VUI-202012/01 or am I confused?


The University of Sheffield (2020). New, more infectious strain of Covid-19 now dominates global cases of virus https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/new-strain-covid-more-infectious-1.892276

Wise, J. (2020) Covid-19: New coronavirus variant is identified in UK BMJ 371 :m4857 https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m4857

1 Answer 1


You are confused. The VUI-202012/01 strain has some 17 mutations, some of which have been seen separately before. See COG UK summary:

enter image description here

COG UK suspects that that many mutations have accumulated in a chronic case of infection which served as a "living lab". ECDC give this approximation of the spread of the new kid:

enter image description here

In contrast G614 has been dominant for a while by now:

enter image description here

Note that more "new strains" have been discussed before, aside from G614; see e.g. my snippet from comments in Science to a related question.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.