SARS-CoV-2 genetic diversity and stability in the presence of neutralising antibodies and antivirals

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Cellular and Molecular Medicine


We want to understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19) might mutate when it is placed under what is known as selective pressure. At the moment the virus is spreading around the globe and it is mutating relatively slowly. That is likely to be because nobody has any pre-existing immunity top the virus and we have limited effective drugs that target the virus and even the one drug we do have that targets the virus (Remdesivir) has not been widely used.
Over time we anticipate that more and more people will become immune because they have had the virus or because they have had a vaccine. At the same time, we believe that drugs that directly target the virus will become available and more widely used. Once this happens the virus will find it harder to spread and cause serious disease and when that happens it is possible that the virus will begin to accumulate mutations that will help it to evade the drugs we have developed and the vaccines we have deployed.
This project will recreate that kind of evolutionary pressure in the laboratory so we can understand what kinds of mutations might emerge or even if the virus is actually unable to mutate and that the vaccines being planned and the antiviral drugs being evaluated will be effective over many years.


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Description Press artcles, radio and television interviews 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I have been interviewed extensively about my work on SARS-CoV-2
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020