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This is a summary of "Spike mutation pipeline reveals the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2"


Are there new forms of the novel coronavirus that can spread more easily and are these more deadly?

This study identified a mutated form of SARS-CoV-2 called Spike D614G that became very common in March 2020, but this study does not show that this mutation actually makes the virus more contagious or deadly.

Key takeaways

Why is this important?

Headlines in early May 2020 touted claims of a new SARS-CoV-2 strain (Spike D614G) that is more contagious and possibly more deadly. In addition to potentially worsening the pandemic, a new mutation could potentially impact efforts to develop vaccines or drugs against the virus.

What is Spike D614G?

The protein in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that is responsible for recognizing and entering human cells in the lung is called the spike protein. This protein is composed of 1,276 amino acids, and is the target for almost every vaccine currently in development.

Amino acid ‘aspartic acid’ (D) was found at position 614 in the initial sequences obtained for this virus. This study, however, has shown that in many of the sequences from more recent patients, amino acid ‘glycine’ (G) can be found in this position. Therefore, the mutation is called D614G, meaning amino acid D at position 614 was mutated to G. There are now two main forms of the virus: the initial form with amino acid D in position 614 (D614), and the new mutated form with amino acid G at this position (G614).

D614G amino acid chain

What did the study do?

How was it reported?

The original paper is a preprint study. It has not been certified by peer review from other researchers, and information presented may be erroneous. Do not use it to guide clinical practice! Learn more →

Original Paper DOI10.1101/2020.04.29.069054

Spike mutation pipeline reveals the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2 [PDF]

Additional Reading

For more details and technical discussion of the study, we recommend reading the following resources:


  1. Grasselli, G., Zangrillo, A., Zanella, A., Antonelli, M., Cabrini, L., Castelli, A., Cereda, D., Coluccello, A., Foti, G., Fumagalli, R. and Iotti, G., 2020. Baseline characteristics and outcomes of 1591 patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 admitted to ICUs of the Lombardy region, Italy. Jama, 323(16), pp.1574-1581.
  2. Yang, J., Zheng, Y., Gou, X., Pu, K., Chen, Z., Guo, Q., Ji, R., Wang, H., Wang, Y. and Zhou, Y., 2020. Prevalence of comorbidities in the novel Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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