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While the origin of the new Coronavirus is not yet known, we do know where new viruses normally come from. Hint: Darwin’s theory of evolution is full of clues!
In this animation you will get a crash course in virology. You’ll learn how viruses differ from other microbes, why most viruses can only infect one type of host organism, and how viruses evolve to infect new hosts.
For more information on evolution, visit
For more information on the idea that this virus may have come from a lab, see our article here:
For an excellent and accurate Q&A about the coronavirus, including things about how it is treated and how to stay safe, see this video by Dr. Ines Dawson. It’s long but don’t worry, in the video description she has a table of contents. Click the question you care about and it will jump right to that spot in the video!
Overview of how new viruses evolve during spillover events
SARS coronavirus seems to have gone from bats to civets to people
RNA recombination as a source of genetic novelty in coronaviruses:
How recombination and reassortment work:
Recombination in single stranded RNA viruses
The evolution of SARS and a prediction that new coronaviruses will evolve in the future
How coronaviruses enter cells via binding and endocytosis:
How we stopped the SARS coronavirus
Pangolins as a potential intermediate host
In the animation I call the virus COVID-19, but this is technically incorrect. COVID-19 is the name of the disease it causes. The virus itself is called SARS CoV 2. Thanks to YouTube user “Charles Starbuck” for pointing out the error.