Vibration assisted electron tunnelling in COVID-19 infection using quantum state diffusion

Muhammad Waqas Haseeb, Mohamad Toutounji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The spread of the COVID-19 virus has become a global health crisis, and finding effective treatments and preventions is a top priority. The field of quantum biology primarily focuses on energy or charge transfer, with a particular emphasis on photosynthesis. However, there is evidence to suggest that cellular receptors such as olfactory or neural receptors may also use vibration-assisted electron tunnelling to enhance their functions. Quantum tunnelling has also been observed in enzyme activity, which is relevant to the invasion of host cells by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Additionally, COVID-19 appears to disrupt receptors such as olfactory receptors. These findings suggest that quantum effects could provide new insights into the mechanisms of biological systems and disease, including potential treatments for COVID-19. We have applied the open quantum system approach using Quantum State Diffusion to solve the non-linear stochastic Schrödinger equation (SSE) for COVID-19 virus infection. Our model includes the mechanism when the spike protein of the virus binds with an ACE2 receptor is considered as dimer. These two entities form a system and then coupled with the cell membrane, which is modelled as a set of harmonic oscillators (bath). By simulating the SSE, we find that there is vibration-assisted electron tunnelling happening in certain biological parameters and coupling regimes. Furthermore, our model contributes to the ongoing research to understand the fundamental nature of virus dynamics. It proposes that vibration-assisted electron tunneling could be a molecular phenomenon that augments the lock-and-key process for olfaction. This insight may enhance our understanding of the underlying mechanisms governing virus-receptor interactions and could potentially lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12152
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024


  • Open quantum dynamics
  • Quantum Biology
  • Stochastic equation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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