Biology of SARS-CoV-2
This four-part animation series explores the biology of the virus SARS-CoV-2, which has caused a global pandemic of the disease COVID-19.
SARS-CoV-2 is part of a family of viruses called coronaviruses. The first animation, Infection, describes the structure of coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 and how they infect humans and replicate inside cells. The second animation, Evolution, describes how these viruses evolve and discusses positive, negative, and neutral mutations. The third animation, Detection, describes the methods used to detect active and past SARS-CoV-2 infections. The fourth animation, Vaccination, describes the different types of vaccinations for SARS-CoV-2 and how they prevent disease. These animations are also available in a YouTube playlist.
The accompanying “Student Worksheets” incorporate concepts and information from the animations. The “Version 1” worksheet is appropriate for general high school biology students, and the “Version 2” worksheet is appropriate for AP/IB Biology and undergraduate students.
An audio descriptive version of the animation is available via our media player by clicking the "AD" button in the lower left hand corner of the media player.
Student Learning Targets
- Identify structural components of SARS-CoV-2.
- Describe the steps in the SARS-CoV-2 replication cycle.
- Explain how mutations arise in a viral genome.
- Describe how a virus can change over time due to mutations.
- Outline different ways to detect a viral infection.
- Describe how different types of vaccines expose the immune system to specific antigens.
- Explain how antigens stimulate a natural immune response, including the concepts of antibodies and immune memory.
adenovirus, antibody, antigen, B cell, COVID-19, coronavirus, envelope, mRNA, mutation, replication, RT-PCR, SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), spike protein
Cui, Jie, Fang Li, and Zheng-Li Shi. “Origin and evolution of pathogenic coronaviruses.” Nature Reviews Microbiology 17, 3 (2019): 181–192. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41579-018-0118-9.
Fehr, Anthony R., and Stanley Perlman. “Coronaviruses: An Overview of Their Replication and Pathogenesis.” In Coronaviruses: Methods and Protocols, eds. Helena J. Maier, Erica Bickerton, and Paul Birtton, 1–23. Vol. 1282 of Methods in Molecular Biology. New York: Humana Press, 2015. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2438-7_1.
Khailany, Rozhgar A., Muhamad Safdar, and Mehmet Ozaslan. “Genomic characterization of a novel SARS-CoV-2.” Gene Reports 19 (2020): 100682. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.genrep.2020.100682.
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Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
SYI-1.D, IST-1.N, IST-2.E, IST-4.B
1.3, 2.7, 5.3, 6.3, 11.1, B.4
ELA.RST.9-10.4, ELA.RST.11-12.4, ELA.RST.11-12.7
CC1, CC2, CC3; DP1, DP4