New Research Shows That the Body Can Store Multiple COVID Variants 

March 3, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
New Research Shows That the Body Can Store Multiple COVID Variants 

New findings from researchers at the University of Bristol show that those infected with COVID could have different variants hidden in different parts of the body, as if the virus is playing an ultimate game of ‘hide and seek’ with the immune system.

The two studies on structural insights and synthetic virions were published in Nature Communications. 

In the studies, researchers investigate the function of a tailor-made pocket in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in the infection cycle of the virus. The pocket, discovered by the Bristol team, plays an essential role in viral infectivity. 

To do this, the team used a synthetic biology technique, state-of-the art imaging and cloud computing to decipher how viral mechanisms work. They also built synthetic SARS-CoV-2 virions in test tubes, which safely mimic the virus but do not multiply in human cells, to better understand the function of the pocket. 



The results demonstrated that upon binding of a fatty acid, the spike protein decorating the virions changed shape, and it is that shape shifting mechanism that effectively hides the virus from the immune system. 

The results show that one can have several different virus variants in one’s body that may use kidney or spleen cells as their niche to hide, while the body is busy defending against the dominant virus type. 

The findings may indicate that an infected body may not actually get rid of SARS-CoV-2 entirely, but could also empower the ability to create new tools to defeat the virus, although more research is need.


Halo Therapeutics, founded by the authors of the study, aims to develop pocket-binding pan-coronavirus antivirals, which would serve as a tailor-made antiviral molecule that blocks the pocket to put an end to the hide and seek game the virus is playing within immune systems. 

Alexa can be reached at [email protected] 

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