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Virological and immunological determinants of COVID-19 pathogenesis - lessons to get prepared for future pandemics

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has major global impact on human society, economy and daily life. The virus emerged as zoonotic transmission and since the end of 2019 spread around the globe. Although most infections are rather mild or even asymptomatic, more than three million people have died from COVID-19 until April 2021. The pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection remains unclear, but most likely results from both a direct cytopathic effect of the virus and a pathogenic inflammation-dominated immune response.

To gain knowledge about the virological and immunological drivers of COVID-19 pathogenesis and the parameters of immune protection, we united experts from 7 Helmholtz Centers in 4 Helmholtz Research Fields (Health, Environment, Information and Aeronautics, Space & Transport) and 3 university partners, to create an internationally visible and interdisciplinary network called COVIPA that pursues two major goals:

  1. Determine the virological and immunological parameters underlying COVID-19 pathogenesis in order to define targeted therapies and to inform vaccine development;
  2. Use SARS-CoV-2 as paradigm to gather knowledge and establish durable technology platforms for studying spillover risks and disease mechanisms shared by other pathogens of pandemic potential. The long-term goal is to exploit these mechanisms for broad-spectrum therapeutic approaches and to develop novel AI-based robotics systems that are applicable for Infectious Diseases in general and far beyond


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Sandra Wüst
COVIPA Office 

Catherine Moreau
COVIPA Office 

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