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Assessing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for pregnancy and as possible cause of birth defects

Since December 2019, SARS-CoV-2 causing COVID-19 spreads
over the globe. Mortality rate is highest among the elderly while people at reproductive age 
usually experience mild or no symptoms. At current, data on SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy 
are limited. Whereas infection during late trimester pregnancy seems to occur without adverse 
events, a recent study reported maternal and neonatal complications if the infection occurs in the 
early third trimester. Very little is known about maternal and neonatal outcomes after SARS-Cov-2 
infection in the first and second trimester of pregnancy. Moreover, vertical transmission of 
SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy is still a controversial issue. The aim of this project is to 
investigate (i) whether vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs during embryogenesis, and (ii) 
if/how this causes damage to developing embryos. To that end, we will investigate the
susceptibility of human oocytes and early embryos to SARS-CoV-2 infection and the possible impact 
on embryonic development in vitro. In addition we will study vertical transmission and consequences 
of maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection on embryogenesis in a hamster model in vivo. In the hamster model 
we will also estimate protection trom vertical transmission by vaccination or passive serum 

Date:1 Nov 2020  →  Today
Keywords:Sars-Cov-2 infection, Vertical transmission, Pregnancy, Embryogenesis, Congenital malformations
Disciplines:Developmental biology , Embryology, Virology