Bavarian consortium for research on the pandemic disease COVID-19 (FOR-COVID)

The association

At the beginning of January 2020, a number of patients with pneumonia of unknown aetiology was reported in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. The outbreak was associated with a seafood market in Wuhan, where a novel coronavirus was identified as  the etiological agent.  Several independent research groups identified this novel virus as a member of the zoonotic coronavirus family with highly identical genome as a bat coronavirus, pointing to the bat as the natural host. The genomic sequences of the novel virus are almost identical and share about 80% sequence identity to a virus that emerged 17 years ago causing a „Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome“ called SARS-CoV. As a result, the novel identified virus has been classified as SARS-CoV-2. While the virus is likely originating from zoonotic coronaviruses, it adapted perfectly to humans and spreads rapidly.

For a long time Coronviruses are known to cause mild respiratory diseases in humans. In the last two decades two coronoviruses have been identified, the SARS-CoV  in 2002 and the MERS-CoV in 2009. Both viruses caused severe life threatening illness of the lower respiratory tract..

The currently spreading SARS-CoV-2 virus causes a disease, which is called coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) and shows a wide range of symptoms, ranging from asymptomatic/mild symptoms to flue-like symptoms and further to severe illness with progressive respiratory insufficiency requiring mechanical ventilation which can even trigger a multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.

Within a few months of the first report, SARS-CoV-2 had spread worldwide, reaching a pandemic level. COVID-19 has triggered enormous human casualties and serious economic loss posing global threat and a crucial test for the international solidarity of the world.


Quelle: Sequences are available at Fig: Dr. Maximilian Muenchhoff, Max von Pettenkofer-Institut, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU). For enlargment of the figure please click here.

Also in Germany and Bavaria society, politics and science are facing completely new challenges in the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. As a result and in an effort to face the pandemic and its major scientific questions, Bavarian universities and research institutes joined forces in the Bavarian research consortium ‘FOR-COVID’. The research partners in FOR-COVID, which include international renowned scientists, will combine their expertise in virological diagnostics, the development of vaccines and the evaluation of virus specific immunity. In addition FOR-COVID will focus on the virus –cell interactions and the research in pathogenesis and therapy.

The mission of FOR-COVID is to contribute to the continuous international scientific efforts to combat COVID-19 and the pandemic. On the national level FOR-COVID will closely interact and join forces with the project groups of a Saxonian research network.



Launching date




Funded by

Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts