Publish Date: 
Monday, August 2, 2021 - 14:00

COVID-19 does not integrate into our DNA

TRI-based scientists from Mater Research Institute-UQ, in collaboration with The University of Queenland’s Queensland Brain Institute, have shown that the virus behind COVID-19 does not integrate into the host’s DNA.

Their finding refutes a recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which it was proposed that positive COVID-19 tests occurred long after recovery due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing COVID-19 integrating into the DNA of infected cells.

Professor Geoff Faulkner said his team’s research published in Cell Reports showed there was no evidence of COVID-19 – or the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines – entering DNA.

“The evidence refutes this concept being used to fuel vaccine hesitancy,” Professor Faulkner said.

“We looked into their claims that the human cells and machinery turned COVID-19 RNA into DNA, causing permanent mutations,” he said.

“We assessed the claims in cells grown in the laboratory, conducted DNA sequencing and found no evidence of COVID-19 in DNA.

“From a public health point of view, we would say that there are no concerns that the virus or vaccines can be incorporated into human DNA.”

Professor Faulkner is a computational and molecular biologist with expertise in genomics and transposable elements – meaning his team studies DNA changes to determine how they impact human biology.

For the Cell Reports publication, he worked with virologists, including Associate Professor Daniel Watterson from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Associate Professor Watterson said the research confirmed there was no unusual viral activity and the COVID-19 behaviour was in line with what was expected from a coronavirus.

Read the Cell Reports paper here.

This story was first published by The University of Queensland.