Even though variants of Sars-CoV2 are being monitored and sequenced, that doesn’t mean we can always predict which of them are problematic, Elizabeth Tracey reports


Researchers around the world are sequencing new variants of Sars-CoV2 as they emerge, but while it may be possible to pinpoint changes in the virus it’s not known what those changes might portend. That’s according to Stuart Ray, an infectious disease expert at Johns Hopkins.

Ray: Here I am noting that delta lacks those changes in most of the sequences, so while we thought 501, 44 were super important, this virus continues to surprise us, and delta has other features. So what we thought was important before may not be important now, and I think this is important as we think about where the next variant might come from. They keep on coming out of left field and so we have to be humble about our ability to predict what’s going to be dominant six months from now if we’re designing a new antigen for a vaccine for instance.  :29

Ray says that current vaccines are holding their own against all important variants of Sars-CoV2, dramatically reducing both hospitalizations and deaths related to infection. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.