Cooper (2021) at least seven genetically independent lineages acquired a mutation at one particular spot on the virus’s infamous spike protein. Spike has a sequence of linked amino acids, and the mutation occurs at position number 677. In the original SARS-CoV-2 this is the amino acid glutamine, abbreviated as Q.
Mutations in at least eight different positions in the spike protein are simultaneously on the rise around the world, appearing in B.1.1.7 and in other major variants of concern known as B.1.351, P.1 and P.3. These variants share combinations of mutations at positions 18, 69–70, 417, 452, 501, 681 and a particularly concerning E484K mutation that evades neutralizing antibodies.
Cooper speculates that the virus is beginning to run out of new, major adaptations.
Cooper, V. (2021, March 24). The Coronavirus variants don’t seem to be highly variable so far. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-coronavirus-variants-dont-seem-to-be-highly-variable-so-far/