Coronavirus Variants: Surtees Provides Expertise

Updated March 19, 2021

Public health experts have been learning more about coronavirus variants as the virus continues to mutate and spread across the globe. But while B.1.1.7 (the U.K. variant), B.1.351 (the South African variant), and P.1 (the Brazilian variant) have received a lot of attention, another has emerged right here in the U.S. B.1.427/B.1.429, two forms collectively dubbed the “California variant” as they share three key mutations, has spread wildly since its initial detection in July 2020. Experts say the California variant is unlikely to be the only homegrown variant. “There are very likely different variants in the U.S.,” says Jennifer A. Surtees, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry. “The fact that multiple lineages accumulated similar mutations indicates that these mutations might have a selective advantage,” she says. That’s why, Surtees says, it’s important for experts to track SARS-CoV-2 cases—and their genetic makeup—across the country.