Variants: Weekly Summary 6 February

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In many countries, the more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants B117, B1351 and P1 are currently replacing previously dominating lineages. B117, B1351 and P1 are already dominant in England (B117), South Africa (B1351) and Amazonia (P1). They also account for 50% or more of new infections in Ireland, Portugal and Israel (B117). Over the coming weeks, B117 will spread through most countries in continental Europe and the US.

Figure 1. Relative abundance of B117 in England and Belgium. Other European countries, for example France, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the US are expected to follow the same steep pattern within weeks. Adapted from Tom Wenseleers,


B117, B1351 and P1 escape natural or vaccine-acquired immunity to different degrees (see page 16). As a consequence, vaccine manufacturers have started modifying their vaccine for ‘emerging variant booster candidates’ (additional [third] vaccine booster doses are also being discussed). B117, B1351 and P1 are partly or totally resistant against some monoclonal antibodies (page 18).

While ‘hard’ lockdowns are apt at controlling the new variants (see the UK and Ireland), ‘soft’ lockdowns may not be sufficient. Health authorities in countries like France, Italy and the US should take notice.