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