Covid-19 Variants

COVID-19 Variants: Based on Genetic Sequencing of All Positive COVID-19 Tests MUSC Conducts – Red and Yellow are Variants of Concern

Updated: May 26th 2021

  • A team from the MUSC Molecular Pathology Laboratory are doing genetic sequencing of all positive COVID-19 testing samples for all COVID-19 tests that MUSC conducts to identify COVID-19 variants. The study team includes Drs. Julie Hirschhorn, Frederick Nolte, Scott Curry, and Glen Williams.
  • This graphic shows the distribution of variants of COVID-19 grouped by month.
  • Those shown in red and orange shades are “variants of concern” and “variants of interest”.
  • Some variants can have an impact on how easily the virus passes from an infected individual to another individual (transmission rate), response to the monoclonal antibody treatments is reduced for some variants, and reduced efficacy of vaccine and natural immunity acquired from having the disease.
  • The B.1.1.7 variant, also known as the United Kingdom strain, has a 50% increased transmission rate meaning that it can more easily pass from an infected person to another individual. There is also data to suggest that the severity of disease is greater with this variant strain.
  • The B.1.351 variant, also known as the South Africa strain, has a 50% increase transmission rate and has been shown to have a reduced susceptibility to the combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab monoclonal antibody treatment.
  • More information on each variant is available from the CDC website (click below). This includes information on where each variant originated from, when it was first detected, and what its attributes are (Center for Disease Control and Prevention Website).