Page URL:

UK whole genome sequence alliance to map spread of coronavirus

30 March 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1041

The UK Government and its chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, have backed research to map how COVID-19 spreads and behaves by using whole genome sequencing.

The COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium - comprised of the NHS, Public Health Agencies, Wellcome Sanger Institute, and numerous other academic institutions - has invested £20 million to analyse the genetic code of COVID-19 samples circulating in the UK and share intelligence with hospitals, regional NHS centres and the Government. In doing so, it hopes to give public health agencies and clinicians a comprehensive tool to fight the virus.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: 'At a critical moment in history, this new consortium will bring together the UK's brightest and best scientists to build our understanding of this pandemic, tackle the disease and ultimately, save lives.'

Samples from confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be sent to a variety of sequencing centres around the UK, including Belfast, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford and Sheffield. 

By looking at the whole virus genome in people who have tested positive for COVID-19, researchers can monitor changes in the virus at a national scale to further understand how the virus spreads and if new strains are emerging. 

'This virus is one of the biggest threats our nation has faced in recent times and crucial to helping us fight it is understanding how it is spreading' said Professor Sharon Peacock, director of the National Infection Service, Public Health England. 'Harnessing innovative genome technologies will help us tease apart the complex picture of coronavirus spread in the UK, and rapidly evaluate ways to reduce the impact of this disease on our society.'

It is hoped that the findings from the consortium will also help prepare the UK and the world for future pandemics.

Sir Patrick said: 'Genomic sequencing will help us understand COVID-19 and its spread. It can also help guide treatments in the future and see the impact of interventions.'

UK launches whole genome sequence alliance to map spread of coronavirus
Wellcome Sanger Institute |  23 March 2020
UK scientists to sequence coronavirus genome in bid to understand spread of pandemic
The Independent |  23 March 2020
UK to map coronavirus spread with whole genome sequence alliance
Pharmafield |  23 March 2020
Whole genome sequencing to map coronavirus spread
Healthcare in Europe |  23 March 2020
6 July 2020 - by Dr Nicoletta Charolidi 
Genomics England has launched a new, secure, data-processing platform for global COVID-19 genomic research...
18 May 2020 - by Dr Katie Howe 
Thirty-five thousand people in the UK with COVID-19 will have their genetic code analysed to understand how a person's genes affect how they react to the virus...
11 May 2020 - by Dr Melanie Krause 
An international research team has discovered nearly 200 recurrent mutations in the genome of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease...
4 May 2020 - by Emma Lamb 
A novel stem cell therapy may play a part in improving the survival rate of ventilator-dependent COVID-19 patients....
6 April 2020 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
Academic and industry researchers led by Professor Jennifer Doudna, a pioneer of CRISPR genome editing, have opened a new COVID-19 testing centre at University of California (UC) Berkeley...
23 March 2020 - by Alegria Vaz Mouyal 
More than 300 scientists at the Francis Crick Institute in London have volunteered their services to carry out coronavirus tests in their labs...
23 March 2020 - by Dr Jay Stone 
A new CRISPR-based technology can target RNA in human cells, including the RNA-based genome of the coronavirus...
3 February 2020 - by Christina Burke 
Next-generation DNA sequencing is helping to rapidly identify and characterise the coronavirus at the centre of the recent outbreak...
23 September 2013 - by Lanay Tierney 
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a potentially lethal respiratory virus first identified last year in Saudi Arabia, may be transmitted by jumping repeatedly from animals to humans, DNA sequencing suggests...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.