Skip to main content

On the evolutionary epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2

Cite this dataset

Day, Troy; Gandon, Sylvain; Lion, Sébastien; Otto, Sarah P. (2020). On the evolutionary epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 [Dataset]. Dryad.


There is no doubt that the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 is mutating and thus has the potential to adapt during the current pandemic. Whether this evolution will lead to changes in the transmission, the duration, or the severity of the disease is not clear. This has led to considerable scientific and media debate, from raising alarms about evolutionary change to dismissing it. Here we review what little is currently known about the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 and extend existing evolutionary theory to consider how this disease might evolve during the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is currently no definitive evidence that SARS-CoV-2 is undergoing further adaptation, continued, evidence-based, analysis of evolutionary change is important so that public health measures can be adjusted in response to substantive changes in the infectivity or severity of COVID-19.


The dataset is a supplementary Mathematica package that derives the analytical results and simulates the dynamics, as illustrated in Figures 3-4. Additional supplementary figures explore the robustness of the results to alternative parameter choices.

Usage notes

The source notebook was written in Mathematica 8 (Wolfram Research Inc.) and is provided in .nb (Mathematica) and PDF formats.


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Award: RGPIN-2013-217636

Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Award: ANR-17-CE35-0012

Agence Nationale de la Recherche, Award: ANR-16-CE35-0012-01