[993] Emerging viruses

The group „Emerging viruses” is led by Pr Isabella Eckerle, member of the “High-level European expert group proposing a roadmap towards stabilization of the COVID-19 pandemic in the European region”.

This group is the affiliated research group of the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, a joint institution between the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG) and the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, with the main laboratory of research group being located at the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine (MIMOL) at the Centre medical universitaire (CMU).

 The focus of our research is the laboratory-based risk assessment of novel and emerging zoonotic viruses by molecular and classical virological methods using innovative and highly specific cell culture models from humans and animal reservoir hosts. Since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, our laboratory is strongly involved in both in development and validation of diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2, as well as research projects on SARS-CoV-2, for example on viral shedding, virus isolation studies, creation of a SARS-CoV-2 biobank, molecular as well as phenotypic characterisation and coinfection with other respiratory viruses in primary airway epithelial cells and clinical as well as immunological studies.

 The research group is closely connected to the diagnostic virology laboratory and the the Swiss National reference laboratory for emerging viral infections (Centre référence infections virales émergentes, CRIVE) at the HUG. The Centre hosts the only P3 and P4D facilities in the Canton of Geneva, located at the HUG, where our work with infectious SARS-CoV-2 is performed.

 Link to the Geneva Centre of emerging Viral Diseases https://www.hug.ch/en/centre-emerging-viral-diseases and diagnostic laboratories of the HUG incl. the CRIVE https://www.hug.ch/laboratoire-virologie

 The laboratory is one of 26 international reference laboratories for COVID19 testing designated by the World Health Organization, to which our group is contributing in terms of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic validations (WHO COVID-19 Reference Laboratory Network)


 The laboratory is also collaborating partner of the Foundation of Innovative Diagnostics (FIND) to provide support for accurate SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics. Updates of current validations for molecular assays and Antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests can be found here:


 Close collaborations exist also with the Infectious Diseases Service, the Population Epidemiology Unit, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Unit of the HUG and the Centre of Vaccinology of the Department of Pathology and Immunology at Unige.


SAVE THE DATE: "Covid-19 and beyond: Understanding emerging viral diseases and their public health impact" - 3rd Symposium of the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases, December 7-9, 2022, at the Campus Biotech in Geneva, Switzerland! More information will follow soon.


 Research funds:

Horizon 2020, European Union, Project: “European Clinical Research Alliance on Infectious Diseases – ECRAID-Base

Swiss National Foundation (SNF) National Research Program (NRP) 78 "Covid-19" “Large-scale serological profiling of SARS-CoV-2 and related human CoVs with high-throughput microfluidic nano-immunoassays”,

Co-application with Sebastian Maerkl, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Swiss National Foundation (SNF), Special call on coronaviruses,Project: “Phenotypic characterization of a SARS-CoV-2 clinical strain biobank and risk assessment of evolving virus variants,

 Swiss National Foundation (SNF), Special call on coronaviruses Project: “Real-time pandemic functional characterization of SARS-CoV-2”

Co-application with Volker Thiel and Ronald Dijkman (Institute of Virology and Immunologie, Bern)

Collaborating laboratory for the Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics (FIND): “Support for accurate 2019-nCoV diagnostics”

Foundation privée HUG: Rapid response support for SARS-CoV-2

 Fondation Pictet, Project: “COVID-19, le nouveau défi du Centre de maladies virales émergentes - Understanding transmission & risk factors for COVID-19 in primary cell culture models”

 Fondation Ernst et Lucie Schmidheiny, Project: „Assessment of host-switching capacity of newly identified bat filoviruses through single amino acid change in the spike glycoprotein“


Isabella Eckerle is also part of the following initiatives

High-level European expert group proposing a roadmap towards stabilization of the Covid-19 pandemic in the European region


Expert on the panel on pandemic respiratory diseases at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Germany


Joint ECDC/WHO Euro virus characterization working group 

European Virus Bioinformatics Center

Ad-hoc commission on SARS-CoV-2 of the Society of Virology (German-speaking virologists, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, “Gesellschaft für Virologie”)


Invited expert at the World Health Organization, Global research and innovation forum: towards a research roadmap for the 2019 novel Coronavirus, R&D Blueprint Initiative (11-12 February 2020)

Part of the expert group on virus’ natural history and transmission

 World Health Organization, Target Product Profile Group: COVID-19 Target product profiles for priority diagnostics to support response to the COVID-19 pandemic v.1.0, 29 September 2020, https://www.who.int/publications/m/item/covid-19-target-product-profiles-for-priority-diagnostics-to-support-response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic-v.0.1

World Health Organization: Temporary Advisor to the WHO for the Expert Consultation on mother-to-child transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Oktober 2020)


Selected publications of the group (2018-now)


A SARS-CoV-2 omicron (B.1.1.529) variant outbreak in a primary school in Geneva, Switzerland.

Lorthe E, Bellon M, Berthelot J, Michielin G, L'Huillier AG, Posfay-Barbe KM, Azman AS, Guessous I, Maerkl SJ, Eckerle I, Stringhini S; SEROCoV-Schools Study Group.

Lancet Infect Dis. 2022 Apr 14:S1473-3099(22)00267-5. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(22)00267-5.


Infectious viral load in unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals infected with ancestral, Delta or Omicron SARS-CoV-2.

Puhach O, Adea K, Hulo N, Sattonnet P, Genecand C, Iten A, Bausch FJ, Kaiser L, Vetter P, Eckerle I, Meyer B.

Nat Med. 2022 Apr 8. doi: 10.1038/s41591-022-01816-0. 


 Enhanced fitness of SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern Alpha but not Beta.

Ulrich L, Halwe NJ, Taddeo A, Ebert N, Schön J, Devisme C, Trüeb BS, Hoffmann B, Wider M, Fan X, Bekliz M, Essaidi-Laziosi M, Schmidt ML, Niemeyer D, Corman VM, Kraft A, Godel A, Laloli L, Kelly JN, Calderon BM, Breithaupt A, Wylezich C, Berenguer Veiga I, Gultom M, Osman S, Zhou B, Adea K, Meyer B, Eberhardt CS, Thomann L, Gsell M, Labroussaa F, Jores J, Summerfield A, Drosten C, Eckerle IA, Wentworth DE, Dijkman R, Hoffmann D, Thiel V, Beer M, Benarafa C. 

Nature. 2022 Feb;602(7896):307-313. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-04342-0.


Sequential infections with rhinovirus and influenza modulate the replicative capacity of SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract.

Essaidi-Laziosi M, Alvarez C, Puhach O, Sattonnet-Roche P, Torriani G, Tapparel C, Kaiser L, Eckerle I.

Emerg Microbes Infect. 2022 Dec;11(1):412-423. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2021.


Bekliz M, Adea K, Essaidi-Laziosi M, Sacks JA, Escadafal C, Kaiser L, Eckerle I.

SARS-CoV-2 antigen-detecting rapid tests for the delta variant.

Lancet Microbe. 2022 Feb;3(2):e90. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00302-5.


A public health strategy for SARS-CoV-2, grounded in science, should guide Swiss schools through the coming winter.

Keiser O, Agoritsas T, Althaus CL, Azman AS, de Quervain D, Flahault A, Goutaki M, Merglen A, Eckerle I.

Swiss Med Wkly. 2021 Oct 14;151:w30086. doi: 10.4414/smw.2021.w30086.


Robust innate responses to SARS-CoV-2 in children resolve faster than in adults without compromising adaptive immunity.

Vono M, Huttner A, Lemeille S, Martinez-Murillo P, Meyer B, Baggio S, Sharma S, Thiriard A, Marchant A, Godeke GJ, Reusken C, Alvarez C, Perez-Rodriguez F, Eckerle I, Kaiser L, Loevy N, Eberhardt CS, Blanchard-Rohner G, Siegrist CA, Didierlaurent AM.

Cell Rep. 2021 Oct 5;37(1):109773. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109773.


Estimating clinical SARS-CoV-2 infectiousness in Vero E6 and primary airway epithelial cells.

Essaidi-Laziosi M, Perez Rodriguez FJ, Hulo N, Jacquerioz F, Kaiser L, Eckerle I.

Lancet Microbe. 2021 Nov;2(11):e571. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00216-0.


SARS-CoV-2 rapid diagnostic tests for emerging variants.

Bekliz M, Adea K, Essaidi-Laziosi M, Sacks JA, Escadafal C, Kaiser L, Eckerle I.

Lancet Microbe. 2021 Aug;2(8):e351. doi: 10.1016/S2666-5247(21)00147-6.


Diagnostic accuracy of two commercial SARS-CoV-2 Antigen-detecting rapid tests at the point of care in community-based testing centers

Berger A, Ngo Nsoga MT, Perez-Rodriguez F, Abi Aad Y, Sattonnet-Roche P, Gayet-Ageron A, Jaksic C, Torriani G, Boehm E, Kronig I, Sacks JA, de Vos M, Jacquerioz Bausch F, Chappuis F, Kaiser L, Schibler M, Eckerle I, for the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases

medRxiv 2020.11.20.20235341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.11.20.20235341


A high-throughput microfluidic nano-immunoassay for detecting anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in serum or ultra-low volume dried blood samples

Swank Z, Michielin G, Yip HM, Cohen O, Andrey DO, Vuilleumier N, Kaiser L, Eckerle I, Meyer B, Maerkl SJ

medRxiv 2020.10.07.20208280; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.07.20208280


Immunological assessment of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19.

Grazioli S, Tavaglione F, Torriani G, Wagner N, Rohr M, L'Huillier AG, Leclercq C, Perrin A, Bordessoule A, Beghetti M, Pachlopnik J, Vavassori S, Perreau M, Eberhardt C, Didierlaurent A, Kaiser L, Eckerle I, Roux-Lombard P, Blanchard-Rohner G.

J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2020 Nov 12:piaa142. doi: 10.1093/jpids/piaa142.


Daily Viral Kinetics and Innate and Adaptive Immune Response Assessment in COVID-19: a Case Series.

Vetter P, Eberhardt CS, Meyer B, Martinez Murillo PA, Torriani G, Pigny F, Lemeille S, Cordey S, Laubscher F, Vu DL, Calame A, Schibler M, Jacquerioz F, Blanchard-Rohner G, Siegrist CA, Kaiser L, Didierlaurent AM, Eckerle I.

mSphere. 2020 Nov 11;5(6):e00827-20. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00827-20.


Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now.

Alwan NA, Burgess RA, Ashworth S, Beale R, Bhadelia N, Bogaert D, Dowd J, Eckerle I, Goldman LR, Greenhalgh T, Gurdasani D, Hamdy A, Hanage WP, Hodcroft EB, Hyde Z, Kellam P, Kelly-Irving M, Krammer F, Lipsitch M, McNally A, McKee M, Nouri A, Pimenta D, Priesemann V, Rutter H, Silver J, Sridhar D, Swanton C, Walensky RP, Yamey G, Ziauddeen H.

Lancet. 2020 Oct 31;396(10260):e71-e72. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)32153-X.


Validation and clinical evaluation of a SARS-CoV-2 surrogate virus neutralisation test (sVNT).

Meyer B, Reimerink J, Torriani G, Brouwer F, Godeke GJ, Yerly S, Hoogerwerf M, Vuilleumier N, Kaiser L, Eckerle I, Reusken C.

Emerg Microbes Infect. 2020 Dec;9(1):2394-2403. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1835448.


SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the upper respiratory tract of children and adults with early acute COVID-19.

Baggio S, L'Huillier AG, Yerly S, Bellon M, Wagner N, Rohr M, Huttner A, Blanchard-Rohner G, Loevy N, Kaiser L, Jacquerioz F, Eckerle I.

Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Aug 6:ciaa1157. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1157.


Development and Validation of the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Immunoassay as a Highly Specific Tool for Determining Past Exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Muench P, Jochum S, Wenderoth V, Ofenloch-Haehnle B, Hombach M, Strobl M, Sadlowski H, Sachse C, Torriani G, Eckerle I, Riedel A.

J Clin Microbiol. 2020 Sep 22;58(10):e01694-20. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01694-20.


Head-to-Head Accuracy Comparison of Three Commercial COVID-19 IgM/IgG Serology Rapid Tests.

Andrey DO, Cohen P, Meyer B, Torriani G, Yerly S, Mazza L, Calame A, Arm-Vernez I, Guessous I, Stringhini S, Roux-Lombard P, Fontao L, Agoritsas T, Stirnemann J, Reny JL, Siegrist CA, Eckerle I, Kaiser L, Vuilleumier N.

J Clin Med. 2020 Jul 24;9(8):2369. doi: 10.3390/jcm9082369.


Diagnostic accuracy of Augurix COVID-19 IgG serology rapid test.

Andrey DO, Cohen P, Meyer B, Torriani G, Yerly S, Mazza L, Calame A, Arm-Vernez I, Guessous I, Stringhini S, Roux-Lombard P, Fontao L, Agoritsas T, Stirnemann J, Reny JL, Siegrist CA, Eckerle I, Kaiser L, Vuilleumier N; Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases.

Eur J Clin Invest. 2020 Oct;50(10):e13357. doi: 10.1111/eci.13357. Epub 2020 Aug 11.


Serology-informed estimates of SARS-CoV-2 infection fatality risk in Geneva, Switzerland.

Perez-Saez J, Lauer SA, Kaiser L, Regard S, Delaporte E, Guessous I, Stringhini S, Azman AS; Serocov-POP Study Group.

Lancet Infect Dis. 2020 Jul 14:S1473-3099(20)30584-3. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30584-3.


SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence in COVID-19 hotspots.

Eckerle I, Meyer B.

Lancet. 2020 Aug 22;396(10250):514-515. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31482-3.


Validation of a commercially available SARS-CoV-2 serological immunoassay.

Meyer B, Torriani G, Yerly S, Mazza L, Calame A, Arm-Vernez I, Zimmer G, Agoritsas T, Stirnemann J, Spechbach H, Guessous I, Stringhini S, Pugin J, Roux-Lombard P, Fontao L, Siegrist CA, Eckerle I, Vuilleumier N, Kaiser L; Geneva Center for Emerging Viral Diseases.

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2020 Oct;26(10):1386-1394. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2020.06.024.


Culture-Competent SARS-CoV-2 in Nasopharynx of Symptomatic Neonates, Children, and Adolescents.

L'Huillier AG, Torriani G, Pigny F, Kaiser L, Eckerle I.

Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Oct;26(10):2494-2497. doi: 10.3201/eid2610.202403.


Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in Geneva, Switzerland (SEROCoV-POP): a population-based study.

Stringhini S, Wisniak A, Piumatti G, Azman AS, Lauer SA, Baysson H, De Ridder D, Petrovic D, Schrempft S, Marcus K, Yerly S, Arm Vernez I, Keiser O, Hurst S, Posfay-Barbe KM, Trono D, Pittet D, Gétaz L, Chappuis F, Eckerle I, Vuilleumier N, Meyer B, Flahault A, Kaiser L, Guessous I.

Lancet. 2020 Aug 1;396(10247):313-319. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31304-0.


Unbiased metagenomic next-generation sequencing of blood from hospitalized febrile children in Gabon.

Fernandes JF, Laubscher F, Held J, Eckerle I, Docquier M, Grobusch MP, Mordmüller B, Kaiser L, Cordey S.

Emerg Microbes Infect. 2020 Dec;9(1):1242-1244. doi: 10.1080/22221751.2020.1772015.


Delayed Laboratory Response to COVID-19 Caused by Molecular Diagnostic Contamination.

Mögling R, Meijer A, Berginc N, Bruisten S, Charrel R, Coutard B, Eckerle I, Enouf V, Hungnes O, Korukluoglu G, Kossyvakis T, Mentis A, Molenkamp R, Muradrasoli S, Papa A, Pigny F, Thirion L, van der Werf S, Reusken C.

Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Aug;26(8):1944-1946. doi: 10.3201/eid2608.201843.


COVID-19 epidemic in Switzerland: on the importance of testing, contact tracing and isolation.

Salathé M, Althaus CL, Neher R, Stringhini S, Hodcroft E, Fellay J, Zwahlen M, Senti G, Battegay M, Wilder-Smith A, Eckerle I, Egger M, Low N.

Swiss Med Wkly. 2020 Mar 19;150:w20225. doi: 10.4414/smw.2020.20225. eCollection 2020 Mar 9.


Covid-19: a puzzle with many missing pieces.

Vetter P, Eckerle I, Kaiser L.

BMJ. 2020 Feb 19;368:m627. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m627.