July 2022: Harari & Stern: On the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern
New research by Sheri Harari, Edmond J. Safra PhD student fellow, on the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, published in Nature Medicine, and in Nature Research Briefing.
Where do coronavirus variants come from? In a new research Sheri Harari, Edmond J. Safra PhD student fellow (Stern lab, Life Sciences) and colleagues, performed a comparative analysis of 27 chronic coronavirus infections, which occur in immunocompromised patients. In some of these infections there is accelerated viral evolution with many antibody-evasion mutations reminiscent of those found in notable variants. On the other hand, mutations associated with person-to-person transmission were rarely observed.
Therefore, the generation of a highly transmissible variant during chronic infection is likely a very rare event, but may become a reality when infections are widespread. This calls for protection of vulnerable immunocompromised patients for their own sake and for the sake of society .