At Nature Reviews Microbiology, we have been inspired by how the scientific community have redirected their research efforts to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. This global effort has been instrumental in helping us to understand the epidemiology, dynamics and biological features of the new coronavirus and for paving the way for the development of therapeutics and vaccines. In the second of a new series of Feature articles to highlight these efforts, we interviewed Ravi Gupta (professor), Steve Kemp (postdoctoral fellow), Dami Collier (PhD student) and Bo Meng (Research Associate) at The Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Diseases (CITIID).