Review of COVID-19 Variants and COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy: What the Clinician Should Know?

Deepa Vasireddy, Rachana Vanaparthy, Gisha Mohan, Srikrishna Varun Malayala, Paavani Atluri


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a beta coronavirus that belongs to the Coronaviridae family. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped spherical-shaped virus. The ribonucleic acid (RNA) is oriented in a 5’-3’direction which makes it a positive sense RNA virus, and the RNA can be read directly as a messenger RNA. The nonstructural protein 14 (nsp14) has proofreading activity which allows the rate of mutations to stay low. A change in the genetic sequence is called a mutation. Genomes that differ from each other in genetic sequence are called variants. Variants are the result of mutations but differ from each other by one or more mutations. When a phenotypic difference is demonstrated among the variants, they are called strains. Viruses constantly change in two different ways, antigenic drift and antigenic shift. SARS-CoV-2 genome is also prone to various mutations that led to antigenic drift resulting in escape from immune recognition. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates the variant strains in the different classes. The classes are variant of interest, variant of concern and variant of high consequence. The current variants included in the variant of interest by the USA are: B.1.526, B.1.525, and P.2; and those included in the variant of concern by the USA are B.1.1.7, P.1, B.1.351, B.1.427, and B.1.429. The double and triple mutant variants first reported in India have resulted in a massive increase in the number of cases. Emerging variants not only result in increased transmissibility, morbidity and mortality, but also have the ability to evade detection by existing or currently available diagnostic tests, which can potentially delay the diagnosis and treatment, exhibit decreased susceptibility to treatment including antivirals, monoclonal antibodies and convalescent plasma, possess the ability to cause reinfection in previously infected and recovered individuals, and vaccine breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated individuals. Hence, continuation of precautionary measures, genomic surveillance and vaccination plays an important role in the prevention of spread, early identification of variants, prevention of mutations and viral replication, respectively.

J Clin Med Res. 2021;13(6):317-325

Correction in J Clin Med Res. 2021;13(7):412, doi:


COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Variants; Vaccines; Mutations; Double mutant variant; Triple mutant variant; Vaccine breakthrough cases

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