Evaluating the effects of SARS-CoV-2 spike mutation D614G on transmissibility and pathogenicity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • COG-UK Consortium
  • Erik Volz
  • Verity Hill
  • John T McCrone
  • Anna Price
  • David Jorgensen
  • Áine O'Toole
  • Joel Southgate
  • Robert Johnson
  • Ben Jackson
  • Fabricia F Nascimento
  • Sara M Rey
  • Samuel Nicholls
  • Rachel M Colquhoun
  • Ana da Silva Filipe
  • James Shepherd
  • David J Pascall
  • Rajiv Shah
  • Natasha Jesudason
  • Kathy Li
  • Ruth Jarrett
  • Nicole Pacchiarini
  • Matthew Bull
  • Lily Geidelberg
  • Igor Siveroni
  • Ian Goodfellow
  • Nicholas Loman
  • Oliver G Pybus
  • David L Robertson
  • Emma C Thomson
  • Andrew Rambaut
  • Thomas R Connor

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Imperial College London
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Oxford
  • Pathogen Genomics Unit
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Cambridge


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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-75.e11
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Early online date19 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2021


  • COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, evolution, founder effect, epidemiology, spike