Authors: Patrick Soon-Shiong & Tulio de Oliveira - 2021-01-22
Summary: In the second chapter of this series, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong introduces our guest, Tulio de Oliveira, a Brazilian-South African geneticist and bioinformatician whose work led to the identification of new coronavirus variants in South Africa and the United Kingdom. Known as a “virus hunter,” De Oliveira founded and runs a laboratory at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, where he’s studied coronavirus samples since the start of the pandemic. De Oliveira's discovery in December of multiple mutations explained why South Africa had seen a sudden rise in coronavirus cases. When De Oliveira presented his findings days later to the World Health Organization, they helped other scientists spot a variant in the U.K. that had one of the mutations discovered in De Oliveira's lab. De Oliveira tells Dr. Soon-Shiong about how this all began with his quest to understand South Africa’s sudden rise in cases, and how he later made another alarming discovery: that these mutations have given the virus variant new resistance to many monoclonal antibodies as well to antibodies present in convalescent plasma.
KRISP has been created by the coordinated effort of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and the South African Medical Research Countil (SAMRC).