All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on the virus’ properties. However, some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures.

WHO has characterized specific Variants of Interest (VOIs) and Variants of Concern (VOCs) among COVID-19 variants, in order to prioritize global monitoring and research, and ultimately to inform the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Variants of Concern
    A SARS-CoV-2 variant that meets the definition of a VOI (see below) and, through a comparative assessment, has been demonstrated to be associated with one or more of the following changes at a degree of global public health significance:

    • Increase in transmissibility or detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology; or
    • Increase in virulence or change in clinical disease presentation; or
    • Decrease in effectiveness of public health and social measures or available diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics.
  2. Variants of Interest
    A SARS-CoV-2 isolate is a Variant of Interest (VOI) if, compared to a reference isolate, its genome has mutations with established or suspected phenotypic implications, and either:

    • has been identified to cause community transmission/multiple COVID-19 cases/clusters, or has been detected in multiple countries; OR
    • is otherwise assessed to be a VOI by WHO in consultation with the WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group.

Common Mutants found in COVID-19 and variant line

# Alerts for Further Monitoring
A SARS-CoV-2 variant with

  • genetic changes that are suspected to affect virus characteristics with
  • some indication that it may pose a future risk,
  • but evidence of phenotypic or epidemiological impact is currently unclear,
  • requires enhanced monitoring and repeat assessment pending new evidence.
Pango  
lineages 
GISAID clade Nextstrain  
clade 
Earliest documented  
samples 
Date of designation 
B.1.427
B.1.429*
GH/452R.V1 21C United States of America, 
Mar-2020
VOI: 5-Mar-2021 
Alert: 6-Jul-2021
P.2* GR/484K.V2 20B/S.484K Brazil,  
Apr-2020
VOI: 17-Mar-2021
Alert: 6-Jul-2021
P.3* GR/1092K.V1  21E Philippines, 
Jan-2021
VOI: 24-Mar-2021
Alert: 6-Jul-2021
R.1
R.2
GR Multiple countries, Jan-2021 07-Apr-2021
B.1.466.2 GH Indonesia,
Nov-2020
28-Apr-2021
B.1.621 GH  21H Colombia,
Jan-2021
26-May-2021
AV.1 GR United Kingdom,
Mar-2021
26-May-2021
B.1.1.318 GR 20B Multiple countries,
Jan-2021
02-Jun-2021
B.1.1.519 GR 20B Multiple countries,
Nov-2021
02-Jun-2021
AT.1 GR Russian Federation,
Jan-2021
09-Jun-2021
C.36.3 C.36.3.1 GR 20D Multiple countries,
Jan-2021
16-Jun-2021
B.1.214.2 G Multiple countries, Nov-2020 30-Jun-2021