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What do we know about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its transmission?


The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee will this week hold its first virtual evidence session for its new inquiry into the Science of COVID-19, by investigating the virology of SARS-CoV-2 and the transmission of the virus.

Through this inquiry, the Committee aims to help Government and society learn from the current pandemic and better prepare for future epidemics caused by this and other viruses. The inquiry will start by investigating what is known about the virus itself, asking academic researchers about its structure, genome, antigenic properties and likely origin. The Committee will then ask researchers about the modes of transmission of the virus among people.

The evidence session will be conducted on zoom and can be followed at www.parliamentlive.tv from 10am on Tuesday 19 May. Giving evidence will be:

At 10am:

  • Professor Danny Altmann, Professor of Immunology, Imperial College London
  • Professor Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham
  • Professor David Robertson, Head of Viral Genomics and Bioinformatics, University of Glasgow

At 11am:

  • Dr Samantha Lycett, Group Leader, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor John Edmunds OBE, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Dr Rosalind M Eggo, Assistant Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Questions the session will cover include:

  • What are the properties of coronaviruses that make them a risk for pandemics?
  • To what extent do we understand the origin of the virus, and how do we know that it is a naturally occurring virus?
  • By what mechanisms does the virus cause disease in humans?
  • By what mechanisms does the virus transmit between individuals?
  • What is our best estimate of the R0 value for SARS-CoV-2, and what factors affect the R0 value of a virus?

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