COVID-19 - Coronavirus disease 2019

Natural History of SARS-CoV2 : Emergence and Reservoir – DisCoVer

Submission summary

In late December 2019, a new disease named COVID-19 (COronaVirus Infectious Disease 2019), due to a new Betacoronavirus, the SARS-CoV-2, was notified in Wuhan, China. WHO declares “A public health emergency of international concern” on January 30th, 2020. A few weeks later, the virus has spread in more than 170 countries and has caused more than 215,000 cases including more than 8,790 deaths (with a large majority in China - 18th March 2020, WHO).
Preliminary investigations on available samples collected in 2013 gave a mean nucleotide identity of 96% with the genome of a Sarbecovirus (genus Betacoronavirus) of a Rhinolophidae bat specimen. Despite these announcements, the most recent and direct ancestor of this emergent virus is yet to be discovered and the natural history of its emergence remains to be elucidated. This brings both the WHO and the French National Agency for Research (ANR) to list the quest for the reservoir and the natural history of the emergence as a top priority. DisCoVER aims at answering the question of the origin of SARS-CoV by bringing together an interdisciplinary team of experts in the field from the Caen University, IRD, CNRS, Kasetsart University, Mahidol University and Center of Infectiology Lao Christophe Mérieux.
The main objective of the project is to track the origin of SARS-CoV2 in natural settings sharing biogeographical and socio-ecological features with South-Western China (northern regions of Thailand and Lao PDR). The aim is to characterise the SARS-CoV2 natural cycle and the modalities of its emergence in humans. The zoonotic/emergence risk of SARS-CoV2-related Sarbecovirus members infecting wild animals in northern Southeast Asia will be estimated using a model that will integrate phylodynamic data/analyses with socio-ecological factors to develop real strategies for anticipation and prevention of future emergence.

Project coordination

Meriadeg Le Gouil (Université de Caen - Basse Normandie)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


GRAM 2.0 Caen Université de Caen - Basse Normandie

Help of the ANR 199,817 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: April 2020 - 18 Months

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