Evaluating the Effects of SARS-CoV-2 Spike Mutation D614G on Transmissibility and Pathogenicity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Global dispersal and increasing frequency of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein variant D614G are suggestive of a selective advantage but may also be due to a random founder effect. We investigate the hypothesis for positive selection of spike D614G in the United Kingdom using more than 25,000 whole genome SARS-CoV-2 sequences. Despite the availability of a large dataset, well represented by both spike 614 variants, not all approaches showed a conclusive signal of positive selection. Population genetic analysis indicates that 614G increases in frequency relative to 614D in a manner consistent with a selective advantage. We do not find any indication that patients infected with the spike 614G variant have higher COVID-19 mortality or clinical severity, but 614G is associated with higher viral load and younger age of patients. Significant differences in growth and size of 614G phylogenetic clusters indicate a need for continued study of this variant.


External organisations
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University
  • Birmingham City University
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Public Health Wales
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Oxford
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Infectious Medicine


  • Amino Acid Substitution, Aspartic Acid/analysis, COVID-19/epidemiology, Genome, Viral, Glycine/analysis, Humans, Mutation, SARS-CoV-2/genetics, Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics, United Kingdom/epidemiology, Virulence, Whole Genome Sequencing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-75.e11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan 7
Publication categoryResearch