Roslin Institute investigates similarities between COVID-19 and SARS

Dr Samantha Lycett at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute is leading on probing similarities between COVID-19 and the SARS coronavirus outbreak of 2002-2003. In collaboration with colleagues, Dr Lycett is also investigating the likenesses between COVID-19 and related bat viruses.

Given there is still a lot to be discovered about COVID-19, researchers believe it is important to discover the genetic regions of the new virus and how that may be changing when it infects human beings. If that is understood, then it could help the medical profession in developing strategies to control the spread of the virus.

The researchers are analysing all publicly available information about the virus to inform our understanding of COVID-19. Dr Lycett’s work is analysing virus sequence data using phylogenetics (the study of evolutionary relationships among species) and modelling alongside the international sequence modelling community.

Another part of the work being undertaken at the Roslin Institute is tracing when and how the virus was transmitted from animal to person. If this is understood then it will shed light on how it made the spread of the disease possible.