The spike (S) protein is a critical determinant of the infectivity and antigenicity of SARS-CoV-2. Several mutations in the S protein of SARS-CoV-2 have already been detected, and their effect in immune system evasion and enhanced transmission as a cause of increased morbidity and mortality are being investigated. From pathogenic and epidemiological perspectives, S proteins are of prime interest to researchers. This study focused on the unique variants of S proteins from six continents: Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, South America, and North America. In comparison to the other five continents, Africa had the highest percentage of unique S proteins (29.1%). The phylogenetic relationship implies that unique S proteins from North America are significantly different from those of the other five continents. They are most likely to spread to the other geographic locations through international travel or naturally by emerging mutations. It is suggested that restriction of international travel should be considered, and massive vaccination as an utmost measure to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also further suggested that the efficacy of existing vaccines and future vaccine development must be reviewed with careful scrutiny, and if needed, further re-engineered based on requirements dictated by new emerging S protein variants.
- Invariant residues
- Spike protein