Antigenic drift: Understanding COVID-19

Dec 14, 2021 Volume 54 Issue 12 p2671-2922


Antigenic drift: Understanding COVID-19
Jonathan W. Yewdell
Antigenic drift refers to the evolutionary accumulation of amino acid substitutions in viral proteins selected by host adaptive immune systems as the virus circulates in a population. Antigenic drift can substantially limit the duration of immunity conferred by infection and vaccination. Here, I explain the factors contributing to the rapid antigenic drift of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and receptor proteins of other viruses and discuss the implications for SARS-CoV-2 evolution and immunity.