Covid-19 variants: Impact on transmissibility and virulence

Malik, Yasmin A. (2022) Covid-19 variants: Impact on transmissibility and virulence. Malaysian Journal of Pathology, 44 (3). pp. 387-396. ISSN 0126-8635,

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The genetic evolution of SARS-CoV-2 began in February 2020, with G614 spike protein strains superseding D614 strains globally. Since then with each subsequent mutations, the SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, namely Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron, superseded the previous one to become the dominant strain during the pandemic. By the end of November 2022, the Omicron variant and its descendent lineages account for 99.9% of sequences reported globally. All five VOCs have mutations located in the RBD of the spike protein, resulting in increased affinity of the spike protein to the ACE2 receptors resulting in enhanced viral attachment and its subsequent entry into the host cells. In vitro studies showed the mutations in spike protein help increase the viral fitness, enhancing both transmissibility and replication. In general, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants, were reported with higher transmissibility of 43-90%, around 50%, 170-240%, or 130-170% than their co-circulating VOCs, respectively. The Omicron however was found to be 2.38 times and 3.20 times more transmissible than Delta among the fully-vaccinated and boostervaccinated households. Even the SARS-Cov-2 Omicron subvariants appear to be inherently more transmissible than the ones before. With the broader distribution, enhanced evasion, and improved transmissibility, SARS-CoV-2 variants infection cause severe diseases due to immune escape from host immunity and faster replication. Reports have shown that each subsequent VOC, except Omicron, cause increased disease severity compared with those infected with other circulating variants. The Omicron variant infection however, appears to be largely associated with a lower risk of hospitalisation, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, and even a shorter length of hospital stay. It has been shown that the relatively much slower replication of the Omicron variants in the lung, resulted in a less severe disease.

Item Type: Article
Funders: None
Uncontrolled Keywords: Covid-19 variants; Subvariants; Sublineages; Characteristics; Transmissibility; Virulence
Subjects: R Medicine > RB Pathology
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine
Depositing User: Ms Zaharah Ramly
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2023 03:38
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2023 03:38

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