Houriiyah Tegally, Eduan Wilkinson, Marta Giovanetti, Arash Iranzadeh, Vagner Fonseca, Jennifer Giandhari, Deelan Doolabh, Sureshnee Pillay, Emmanuel James San, Nokukhanya Msomi, Koleka Mlisana, Anne von Gottberg, Sibongile Walaza, Mushal Allam, Arshad Ismail, Thabo Mohale, Allison J Glass, Susan Engelbrecht, Gert Van Zyl, Wolfgang Preiser, Francesco Petruccione, Alex Sigal, Diana Hardie, Gert Marais, Marvin Hsiao, Stephen Korsman, Mary-Ann Davies, Lynn Tyers, Innocent Mudau, Denis York, Caroline Maslo, Dominique Goedhals, Shareef Abrahams, Oluwakemi Laguda-Akingba, Arghavan Alisoltani-Dehkordi, Adam Godzik, Constantinos Kurt Wibmer, Bryan Trevor Sewell, José Lourenço, Luiz Carlos Junior Alcantara, Sergei L Kosakovsky Pond, Steven Weaver, Darren Martin, Richard J Lessells, Jinal N Bhiman, Carolyn Williamson, View ORCID ProfileTulio de Oliveira
Continued uncontrolled transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in many parts of the world is creating the conditions for significant virus evolution. Here, we describe a new SARS-CoV-2 lineage (501Y.V2) characterised by eight lineage-defining mutations in the spike protein, including three at important residues in the receptor-binding domain (K417N, E484K and N501Y) that may have functional significance. This lineage emerged in South Africa after the first epidemic wave in a severely affected metropolitan area, Nelson Mandela Bay, located on the coast of the Eastern Cape Province. This lineage spread rapidly, becoming within weeks the dominant lineage in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape Provinces. Whilst the full significance of the mutations is yet to be determined, the genomic data, showing the rapid displacement of other lineages, suggest that this lineage may be associated with increased transmissibility.
Keywords: South Africa, COVID-19