More resources on variants for your COVID-19 reporting toolbox

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Back in January, Bara Vaida, the AHCJ core topic leader for infectious disease, wrote a helpful post on resources for tracking COVID-19 variants. But in the age of COVID, data moves fast enough to give us constant whiplashes, and so much has changed since then. The most significant change is that the number of variants of concern — a term that not yet defined at the time of Vaida’s post — has grown to at least five:

  • 1.1.7 (UK)
  • 1.351 (South Africa)
  • 1 (Brazil)
  • 1.427 and B.1.429 (California)

Scientists have also learned a lot more about the individual mutations in each variant, such as what advantage they might give the virus and how these can overlap across variants.

Below is a list of resources that can be helpful for reporting on variants, particularly if you’re trying to go in-depth into the science of mutations. In addition to Vaida’s list of sources, I’ve added my own recommendations for interviews on variants, as well as a Twitter list I’ve created to track those following the nitty-gritty details of them. Some of the resources below duplicate those in Vaida’s list, but I recommend reading her blog post first for its excellent background info.

List of potential sources (alphabetical)

  • Kristian Anderson, professor, Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Scripps Research
  • Trevor Bedford, associate professor, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutch
  • Kenny Beckman, senior scientific advisor at Diversigen and former COO and founder of CoreBiome (now called Diversigen)
  • Vaughn S. Cooper, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics, University of Pittsburgh
  • Joseph Fauver, associate research scientist in epidemiology (microbial diseases), Yale University
  • Stephen Goldstein, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utah
  • Nathan Grubaugh, assistant professor of epidemiology (microbial diseases), Yale University
  • Bill Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Jeremy Kamil, associate professor of microbiology and immunology, LSU Health Shreveport
  • Ilhem Messaoudi, professor in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry and director of the Center for Virus Research, University of California Irvine
  • Michel C. Nussenzweig, professor and a senior physician at Rockefeller University.
  • Angie Rasmussen, virologist (in transition)
  • Pavitra Roychoudhury, research associate, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • Eric Topol, professor of molecular medicine, Scripps Research and Director & Founder of Scripps Research Translational Institute
  • Susan R. Weiss, professor of microbiology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

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