The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a highly infectious RNA virus that was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It is the pathogen responsible for the present coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. A large number of genetic variants of the original Wuhan-Hu-1 strain of the virus have rapidly evolved and spread throughout the world. Selective forces driving genetic changes in SARS-CoV-2 differed between the early stages of the pandemic and later after widespread COVID-19 infection and vaccination. The different immunological and virological causes for the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants and their rapid spread will be summarized, and its evolution compared with that of the Influenza A RNA virus.
Audience take away:
- Appreciate molecular biology of RNA viruses, virus evolution and immunity to viruses
- Assist teaching of public health, epidemiology, immunology and virology
- Help develop research ideas to advance knowledge on SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19
- Establish and promote collaborative research links in the field
- Improve knowledge of the current pandemic and help develop measures to mitigate its effects