Bette Korber, a senior scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Consortium, recently has published research which compares the COVID-19 virus with a very different virus HIV-1. This work published in the July issue of Cell Host & Microbe is titled, HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2: Patterns in the evolution of two pandemic pathogens.
This paper is a review looking at two viral pandemics: HIV-1, which has been around for decades, and SARS-CoV-2. Both of these diseases are very different RNA viruses, yet many of the evolutionary strategies that have driven HIV-1 evolution are the same ones that are affecting SARS-CoV-2.
Doing a comparison of the two viruses, this study looks at the frequencies of mutations, their genomic and phylogenetic distributions, and the importance of insertions and deletions in variant lineages among thousands of HIV-1 genomes and hundreds of thousands of SARS-CoV-2 genomes sequenced since that outbreak came to worldwide attention.
In other words, this research looks at how mutational patterns show up in these two very different viruses to provide the variability that then drives their evolution by natural selection.
This is important because as the SARSCoV-2 virus mutates, it is essential to increase not only our ability to track and test new forms of the virus, but also to be able to look at past mutational patterns to anticipate how the virus may change in the future.
To learn more read the entire article as a pdf see: HIV-1 and SARS-CoV-2: Patterns in the evolution of two pandemic pathogens.