The race between pathogens and their hosts is a major evolutionary driver, where both reshuffle their genomes to overcome and reorganize the defenses for infection, respectively1 What is at stake in the current race between the genomic evolution of SARS-CoV-2, causing the COVID-19 pandemic, and the defense tactics of its human host is our global health and economy. Evolutionary ecology theory helps formulate predictions on the future behavior of SARS-CoV-2, while, on the other hand, the real-time tracking of SARS-CoV-2 at the global scale provides an unprecedented opportunity to test long-standing tenets of evolutionary ecology theory Here we quantify the accelerating evolution of SARS-CoV-2 by tracking the SARS-CoV-2 mutation globally, with a focus on the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of the spike protein determining infection success. The estimated 384 million people infected by March 1, 2021, produced up to 1021 copies of the virus, with one new RBD variant appearing for each 600,000 human infections leading to three new effective RBD variants produced daily. Doubling of the number of RBD variants every 71.67 days followed by selection of the most infective variants challenges our defenses and calls for a shift to anticipatory, rather than reactive tactics.
Meeting ID: 838 2931 8876
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