SARS-CoV-2 variants

Learn more about viral mutations and variants

What do we know about SARS-CoV-2 variants?

Variants have increasingly become one of the biggest concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each variant is made up of a collection of mutations. The majority of mutations don’t change how the virus behaves. However, rarely, mutations can change the properties of the virus and potentially give rise to a new Variant of Concern.

So what do we know to date about variants, and what impact could they have on the future of the pandemic?

Watch this explainer video from Nature to learn more.




Where can I find up-to-date information about variants?

In February 2021, we launched the COG-UK Mutation Explorer (COG-UK-ME) — an interface that provides access to data on SARS-CoV-2 mutations and variants of interest in the COG-UK genome sequence data set.

COG-UK-ME allows anyone to view information about important changes in the SARS-CoV-2 genome over time.

The tool is updated twice weekly, and largely focuses on spike gene mutations of potential or known importance; providing information on cumulative frequency and data for the last 28 days to give an approximate assessment of recent changes.

For more details on how to use COG-UK-ME, read our explainer blog. If you want to learn about the impact that COG-UK-ME has had, you can read  the publication on the academic journal Virus Evolution and our interview with the lead developer.

To use the tool for yourself, visit the COG-UK-ME website.