Our battle with COVID-19 has developed unprecedented insights into the foe that we face, with almost 150,000 samples sequenced and made publicly available in near real-time through collections such as the Global Initiative of Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID). Nextstrain.org has developed a time map of viral distribution that tracks the emergence of new variants and determine the mutation rate of the virus. This appears to be 2 single base pair mutations per month, about half the rate of influenza and one quarter the rate of HIV. This analysis has been used to establish that the virus first infected humans back in November 2019.
Figure 1: Protein structure of SARS-CoV-2 virus (Credit: Veronica Falconieri Hays)
Learn more about how D614G has become the dominant variant through increased infectivity and the way it has changed the distinctive spike protein through our Bulletin with the COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group.