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In Journal of chemical information and modeling

Accurate and reliable forecasting of emerging dominant severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants enables policymakers and vaccine makers to get prepared for future waves of infections. The last three waves of SARS-CoV-2 infections caused by dominant variants, Omicron (BA.1), BA.2, and BA.4/BA.5, were accurately foretold by our artificial intelligence (AI) models built with biophysics, genotyping of viral genomes, experimental data, algebraic topology, and deep learning. On the basis of newly available experimental data, we analyzed the impacts of all possible viral spike (S) protein receptor-binding domain (RBD) mutations on the SARS-CoV-2 infectivity. Our analysis sheds light on viral evolutionary mechanisms, i.e., natural selection through infectivity strengthening and antibody resistance. We forecast that BP.1, BL*, BA.2.75*, BQ.1*, and particularly BN.1* have a high potential to become the new dominant variants to drive the next surge. Our key projection about these variants dominance made on Oct. 18, 2022 (see arXiv:2210.09485) became reality in late November 2022.

Chen Jiahui, Wang Rui, Hozumi Yuta, Liu Gengzhuo, Qiu Yuchi, Wei Xiaoqi, Wei Guo-Wei