National genome tracking for coronavirus

In an effort to track the genomes of coronavirus infections around the country, £20 million has been awarded to a genomics consortium.

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), the National Infection Service (part of Public Health England, PHE), and other bodies have joined forces. The consortium, known as COG-UK, or COVID-19 Genomics UK, will work towards:

  • understanding the transmission of COVID-19, including rates of epidemic growth
  • identifying geographical trends and variations in COVID-19 across the UK
  • monitoring the emergence of drug resistant viral mutations in response to the introduction of new treatments and vaccines

Understanding whether, and how much, the virus genetics are changing will help in the fight against its spread, and help develop the right treatments.

The Wellcome Sanger Institute will be responsible for carrying out genetic sequencing work.

The Director of the National Infection Service, PHE, Professor Sharon Peacock, (also Director of COG-UK), said:

“Virus sequence data, when combined with clinical and epidemiological information about patients, can provide information that can inform policy decisions made to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. This needs a coordinated national response and rapid provision of information to policy makers, which this consortium will provide.”

Read more here.

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Published on 1. April 2020 in News, News UK, Press Release