Emerging SARS‐CoV‐2 variants may threaten global vaccination efforts and the awaited reduction in outbreak burden. In this study, we report a novel variant carrying the L452R mutation that emerged from a local B.1.362 lineage, B.1.362+L452R. The L452R mutation is associated with the Delta and Epsilon variants and was shown to cause increased infection and reduction in neutralization in pseudoviruses. Indeed, the B.1.362+L452R variant demonstrated a X4‐fold reduction in neutralization capacity of sera from BNT162b2‐vaccinated individuals compared to a wild‐type strain. The variant infected 270 individuals in Israel between December 2020 and March 2021, until diminishing due to the gain in dominance of the Alpha variant in February 2021. This study demonstrates an independent, local emergence of a variant carrying a critical mutation, L452R, which may have the potential of becoming a variant of concern and emphasizes the importance of routine surveillance and detection of novel variants among efforts undertaken to prevent further disease spread.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The National Covid‐19 Information & Knowledge Center. The Department of Laboratories, Public Health Services, Ministry of Health.
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.