Audio Interview

Interspecies transmission of SARS-CoV-2

Published on February 16, 2021   15 min

Other Talks in the Playlist: Interviews on Covid-19

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Interviewer: Dr. Bailey, thank you for taking the time today to do this interview on the transmission of Sars-CoV-2 from animal to human and the implications of this finding on future inter-species transmission. Could you please give a quick overview on why mutations need to occur for viruses to be able to transmit from animals into humans and across other species? Dr. Bailey: Yes, many viruses need to bind proteins on the surface of our cells to get into those cells. Those proteins, in this particular context, are called receptors, and those receptors may differ from one mammal to the next. For example, the bat receptor for a coronavirus might be different to the human receptor. The virus needs to mutate in order to be able to use that slightly different receptor to get into cells. Viruses are particularly error-prone when they replicate, so they introduce mutations randomly through their genome as they're replicating. This speeds up this process of adaptations to a new receptor. In essence, the virus is mutating in order to access a different conformation, to use a different receptor. Interviewer: It seems to be that this virus is mutating more slowly than other coronaviruses. Are there any theories on why that might be? Dr. Bailey: Yes, I suppose that the information we have now on the rate of mutation for SARS coronavirus 2