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

18 May 2020

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee holds 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.

Purpose of session

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.


Tuesday 19 May at 10.00am

  • 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 11.00am

  • 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 and Tropical Medicine

Possible questions

  • 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?

Further information