Canadian researchers identify agent responsible for COVID-19; will help develop better treatments and vaccines

'Amazing things that can happen when we collaborate'

A team of researchers from Sunnybrook Research Institute, McMaster University and University of Toronto has been able to isolate severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.

The team was able to culture the virus from two clinical specimens in a Level 3 containment facility.

“We need key tools to develop solutions to this pandemic. While the immediate response is crucial, longer-term solutions come from essential research into this novel virus,” said Dr. Samira Mubareka, microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook.

The isolated virus will help researchers in Canada and across the world develop better diagnostic testing, treatments and vaccines, and gain a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 biology, evolution and clinical shedding.

“Now that we have isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we can share this with other researchers and continue this teamwork,” said Dr. Arinjay Banerjee, NSERC post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University. “The more viruses that are made available in this way, the more we can learn, collaborate and share.”

feature image of Dr. Robert Kozak, Dr. Samira Mubareka, Dr. Arinjay Banerjee courtesy Sunnybrook Research Institute