No evidence for distinct types in the evolution of SARS-CoV-2

MacLean, O. A. , Orton, R. J. , Singer, J. B. and Robertson, D. L. (2020) No evidence for distinct types in the evolution of SARS-CoV-2. Virus Evolution, 6(1), veaa034. (doi: 10.1093/ve/veaa034) (PMID:32817804) (PMCID:PMC7197565)

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A recent study by Tang et al. claimed that two major types of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (CoV-2) had evolved in the ongoing CoV disease-2019 pandemic and that one of these types was more ‘aggressive’ than the other. Given the repercussions of these claims and the intense media coverage of these types of articles, we have examined in detail the data presented by Tang et al., and show that the major conclusions of that paper cannot be substantiated. Using examples from other viral outbreaks, we discuss the difficulty in demonstrating the existence or nature of a functional effect of a viral mutation, and we advise against overinterpretation of genomic data during the pandemic.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robertson, Professor David and Singer, Dr Joshua and Orton, Dr Richard and MacLean, Dr Oscar
Authors: MacLean, O. A., Orton, R. J., Singer, J. B., and Robertson, D. L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Virus Evolution
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):2057-1577
Published Online:14 May 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s) 2020
First Published:First published in Virus Evolution 6(1):veaa034
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
Viral Genomics and BioinformaticsAndrew DavisonMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12014/12III-MRC-GU Centre for Virus Research