COVID-19: Assessing the vulnerability of the fetus to SARS-CoV2 infection across development

  • Funded by Department of Health and Social Care / National Institute for Health and Care Research (DHSC-NIHR), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Total publications:1 publications

Grant number: MR/V028480/1

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Key facts

  • Disease

  • Start & end year

  • Known Financial Commitments (USD)

  • Funder

    Department of Health and Social Care / National Institute for Health and Care Research (DHSC-NIHR), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
  • Principle Investigator

  • Research Location

    United Kingdom, Europe
  • Lead Research Institution

    University College London
  • Research Category

    Pathogen: natural history, transmission and diagnostics

  • Research Subcategory

    Pathogen morphology, shedding & natural history

  • Special Interest Tags


  • Study Subject


  • Clinical Trial Details

    Not applicable

  • Broad Policy Alignment


  • Age Group

    Adults (18 and older)Newborns (birth to 1 month)

  • Vulnerable Population

    Pregnant womenOther

  • Occupations of Interest



Numerous studies have shown, that pandemic coronavirus strains such as SARS enter the patient body through ACE2, a specific protein expressed in the airways. ACE2 is important for controlling blood pressure and it is increased in patients with hypertension and kidney conditions. Both of these groups are known to be more susceptible to severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, it has been observed that infants and children are less susceptible to severe infection, with extremely low numbers reported across the world requiring intensive care. Strikingly, newborns seems to be unaffected by this condition, even when the mother tested positive for COVID-19. While the data available are still limited, this has led the UK Governement to define pregnant women as a 'high-risk' group. Therefore, it is important to understand the mechanisms behind the low incidence of complications in fetuses and newborns. Our hypothesis is that the fetus is not susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection because it lacks the ACE2, in tissues that may be exposed to the virus during development and early postnatal care. Our study will provide the health service and advisory boards with new data, that will help inform updated guidance to pregnant mothers during the current pandemic.

Publicationslinked via Europe PMC

Last Updated:38 minutes ago

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COVID-19 and vertical transmission: assessing the expression of ACE2/TMPRSS2 in the human fetus and placenta to assess the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.