Update to the Ensembl COVID-19 resource

As part of Ensembl’s contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we have brought in some important new COVID-19 mutation data related to rapidly spreading strains and changes in virus effectiveness. This priority set of mutations comes from the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) and is soon to be included in the Ensembl COVID-19 browser.

You can view these data as a track in the genome browser, named ‘COG-UK priority mutations’, which can be turned on using the ‘Configure this page’ menu. Go to the variant pages to see the predicted molecular consequence for each mutation and likely changes to virus behaviour. Variant phenotypes can be viewed as a browser track and a table. Where information was already available on the frequency of occurrence of these individual virus mutations in human populations, this data is presented alongside phenotype data, see for example N501Y.

The Ensembl SARS-CoV-2 browser, displaying the COG-UK priority variants

The set includes the 17 mutations from the UK-reported B.1.1.7 variant strain and 4 from the ‘cluster 5’ Danish Mink associated strain. Also shown are D614G, A222V and N439K, which are associated with an effect on transmissibility, a fast growing lineage and increased binding affinity to the hACE2 receptor respectively. These data will also be available in Ensembl VEP in our next release.

Note, individual mutations, as in sequence variants, continue to be described as variants in Ensembl. Variant strains, commonly discussed as variants, are described as strains in Ensembl.